One problem with nepotism in the NFL is that the results sometimes work.
Kyle Shanahan is the son of Mike Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls as an NFL head coach. Shanahan coached in a Super Bowl at the age of 40. Sean McVay is the grandson of former 49ers General Manager John McVay. He coached in the Super Bowl at the age of 33.
According to the NFL's 2020 diversity report, nine of the 32 NFL head coaches in the 2019 season were either the son or father of a current NFL head coach, coordinator or position coach, and 63 of the league's coaches were related either biologically or through marriage, and 53 of those were white.
If you're a coach, it's good to have family connections. Just look at the Vikings.
Adam Zimmer, son of head coach Mike Zimmer, is a co-defensive coordinator. Adam Zimmer is 37. The team is promoting Klint Kubiak to be its offensive coordinator, the Star Tribune and others reported Monday. Kubiak, son of outgoing offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, is 33.
The Vikings hired Klint Kubiak over Giants assistant Tyke Tolbert, 53, a Black man who has been coaching in college and the NFL for 25 years, and who was on Gary Kubiak's Super Bowl-winning staff.
Sons produced by football families have an early start on their football educations. But the presumption that a coach's son is deserving of the best jobs in the industry is problematic, because that presumption costs other qualified candidates a chance to prove themselves.
Take Adam Zimmer. He might be a good coach. He was hired to be an NFL coordinator at a relatively young age. He was paired with Andre Patterson, a Black man.
What did Adam Zimmer do to earn the job? He was hired by his father, then promoted by his father.
What did Patterson do to earn the job? He began coaching two years before Adam Zimmer was born, and was considered one of the NFL's best positional coaches before finally getting a half-a-coordinator's job at the age of 59.
Of course, Patterson and Mike Zimmer have been friends for years, so it may not be surprising that Patterson's son, A.C., is an offensive quality control coach for the Vikings.
The Super Bowl became a cautionary tale regarding nepotistic hiring practices.
Andy Reid's son, Britt, is a linebackers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the defensive line coach from 2016-2018 before being moved to a less important job.
Last week, Britt Reid, according to an arrest warrant, admitted to drinking before he got into a car accident that left a 5-year-old girl with brain damage. Britt Reid's past includes charges of pointing a gun at another driver, possessing a controlled substance without registration, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, use and possession of drug paraphernalia and careless driving.
Can you imagine a nondescript coach with a different last name and that résumé getting a job with the Chiefs, or anywhere in the NFL?
On the other sideline was Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, who has a son who played football. The son is not on Arians' staff. Instead, Arians hired three Black coordinators and two female assistants, and his staff thoroughly outcoached the Chiefs on Sunday.
None of the four Black coordinators who coached in this year's Super Bowl was hired for NFL head coaching openings this offseason. Two white men who were hired — Dan Campbell in Detroit and Nick Sirianni in Philadelphia — couldn't even get through their introductory news conferences without embarrassing themselves.
When the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003 over embarrassment at the lack of diversity among head coaches, there were three head coaches who fit the rule. Today, nearly 20 years later, the number is only slightly higher: Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, Ron Rivera and two new hires in David Culley (Houston) and Robert Saleh (Jets).
C. Keith Harrison, the University of Central Florida professor who wrote the NFL's diversity report, concluded that the league has a problem that is "talked about less than racism yet is just as detrimental to equity and inclusion: Cronyism."
Imagine being a hardworking coach who knows that a certain percentage of the best jobs are reserved for head coaches' family members.
Check that: You don't have to imagine it. Just look at the Vikings' staff.