Raheem Morris named as Head Coach of Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ron Burke | 1/22/2009, 11:39 a.m.

On the weekend before America inaugurated the first African American President, another African American broke through the head coaching ranks in the National Football League, 32-year-old Raheem Morris, who was named the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Morris was promoted from defensive assistant to defensive coordinator to head coach in less than one month, and replaces Jon Gruden, who was fired Fri., Jan. 16 after seven seasons as the Bucs€ head coach.

Morris€ hiring comes on the heels of the recent promotion of Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis and Mike Singletary in San Francisco, and brings the total of African American NFL head coaches to six, although Herm Edwards€ fate may be in jeopardy with the recent hiring of Jim Pioli as general manager in Kansas City. Mike Tomlin is on the verge of being the second Black coach to win a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears both appear to be safe, although both suffered through disappointing seasons.
The NFL had a record seven African American head coaches in 2006, and more doors have opened in recent years, as teams comply with the the so-called "Rooney Rule,€ which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching jobs. Caldwell and Morris are the first Black coaches to be promoted to the top job from position coach duties with the same team. Singletary was given a contract after replacing the fired Mike Nolan in mid-season.