Tony Dungy’s open letter to NFL Owners on minority hiring

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Dear NFL Owners,

I’m writing to you today because I have a great love for the National Football League, just as you do, and want to see it be the best it can be. And I believe our league has a problem that only you can fix. We are not putting the best product possible out on the field. We have an exciting game and great competition. We will have a fantastic Super Bowl that will cap off a season where we overcame great adversity due to this pandemic. The NFL has a lot of things to be proud of, but we are not giving our fans, or our players, the best possible game. We are cheating our fans and we are cheating ourselves. And you are the only people who can change this.

The problem is we are not utilizing all of our resources because we aren’t truly embracing minority hiring in every aspect of our game. Now I know there are many people who disagree with this statement. They would say, “Every owner is trying to win and therefore you will always hire the best people.”  But if you take a look at the hiring landscape of the last four years you will certainly come to the conclusion that is not true.  And please understand this is not about one individual (Eric Bieniemy). It’s not about whether we have two Black general managers or four. It is about the mindset of finding quality leadership and utilizing ALL the talent available to the NFL. This is not a new problem and it’s one that you have fixed before. It has just taken a little work on your parts.

In the 1930s and 1940s, in your grandfathers’ generation, we had great competition and many great players. The assumption was that the NFL was the best football fans could see, and we were putting the absolute best product on the field. But we weren’t. African American players were excluded from the game and no one thought it was detrimental to the product. In 1946 however, Dan Reeves, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, made a very bold move. He started signing African American players. The Cleveland Browns were playing in the All-America Football Conference at the time and their owner, Arthur McBride, did the same thing. When the Browns joined the NFL in 1950, they immediately dominated the league and made it to six straight championship games, aided by a number of African American stars. This pointed out to everyone that we could make our football better by utilizing all of the talent pool available.  Your grandfathers’ generation began to get it right and the NFL was better for it.

In the 1970s, while we had seen plenty of minority players enter the league, your scouts still didn’t grasp the fact that Black players could play QB well enough to thrive in the NFL. Despite the fact that many African Americans were excelling at the quarterback position in college, opportunities to play quarterback in the NFL were rare. Talented quarterbacks like Eldridge Dickey were drafted and switched to other positions. Others, like Chuck Ealey, who led the University of Toledo to great success and never lost a game in his three-year college career, weren’t drafted at all and had to go to Canada to continue to play quarterback. This persisted even into the 90s when Heisman trophy winner Charlie Ward simply chose another sport to excel in rather than fight an uphill battle against negative stereotypes.

Doug Williams on the run

In 1978 Doug Williams, an African American who would later quarterback Washington to a Super Bowl championship, was the first quarterback selected in the draft that year. Had the NFL finally turned the corner in utilizing all the talent and putting the best players on the field?  No! There were 13 other quarterbacks drafted that year, all of them white. Warren Moon was not one of those selected, despite having been the PAC-8 Player of the Year and MVP of the Rose Bowl. He signed in Canada and led the Edmonton Eskimos to five Grey Cup titles before finally getting to sign an NFL contract. Hindsight tells us that Doug Williams and Warren Moon were the best QBs of that class. But Moon, an eventual Hall of Famer, was somehow overlooked, even though every franchise was trying to win and trying to put the best players on the field.

The owners eventually took on this problem. While Black QBs still face unique challenges, there is a different mindset for coaches and scouts. Lamar Jackson did not switch positions. Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson didn’t have to go to Canada to prove themselves and Russell Wilson is playing quarterback for the Seahawks, not second base for the Yankees. And the NFL is much better off because of it.

In the 1980s, when some of your dads owned the teams, the topic of fairness, equality, and putting the best product on the field turned to coaching and front office positions. Once again, it wasn’t viewed by most people as a problem because the mantra is that the NFL is a meritocracy. We are always going to find the best people. But it was rare to see a Black face in coaching or management then. I started my coaching career in 1981 and in eight of my first ten seasons as an assistant coach I was the only African American on the staff. Many former African American players never thought of going into coaching because they couldn’t see a future in it. Some may have wanted to coach in the NFL but were turned away. But as owners like Eddie DeBartolo, Al Davis and Dan Rooney began to change the culture of their organizations, that slowly began to change. We went from 10 African American assistant coaches in 1977 to the over 200 in 2020.  Men like Art Shell, Denny Green, Lovie Smith, and Mike Tomlin rose through the ranks of assistant coaches to become head coaches. They’ve led teams to the playoffs, and even to the Super Bowl.  And the NFL has been better for it.

That brings us to today, 2021, and the teams you own. The league is prospering. The game on the field is exciting. But we can’t bury our head in the sand and not acknowledge the elephant in the room—that you are not hiring the best, and most deserving people in all departments of your teams. Yes, we have made tremendous progress in diversity from 1946 to now—in some areas. Almost 70% of the players are African Americans. Over 30% of the assistant coaches are minorities. We will have two female coaches and a female official on the sidelines of this year’s Super Bowl. But there are other areas where the representation is not nearly as complete. Look at the c-suites of your teams, the medical staffs, and the ultimate decision makers—the head coaches and GMs—and you’ll see those faces don’t represent what your teams look like. And it has been discouraging to see that in the last three hiring cycles of head coaches, things have not been much different. Are we to believe that you’re really doing exhaustive searches, trying to uncover the best coaches, but only two out of the last 20 have been African Americans?

You should know how much it hurt me in 1977 to graduate from college and not be given a chance to try to play QB in the NFL. It hurt in 1993 to have coordinated the number one defense in the NFL and not get an interview for one of the five head coaching openings that year. But I have to tell you it hurts even more to see African American coaches going through the same thing almost 30 years later.  And it will hurt to see four African American coordinators in this Super Bowl who will be questioning whether they will actually get an opportunity to be a head coach in the foreseeable future. And this is hurting our league.

What is the solution to this problem?  How can we make the situation better and make our league better?  I believe it comes down to you. You are the 32 men and women that determine the direction of your franchise and the direction of the entire league. You set the policies and you make the decisions. You are the key players.  I know that’s the case because for 13 years I was in a position similar to yours. As the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, then the Indianapolis Colts, I was responsible for everything that took place with our players. If we didn’t perform well on the field, it was my job to fix it. If we had players who didn’t represent the team well off the field, I was responsible for changing that. It was my responsibility to develop the plan for reaching the goal of being champions, on and off the field.

That’s why I’m writing this letter to you. Because ultimately you are the decision makers that determine the direction of the NFL. Are those decisions going to simply involve trying to win Super Bowls and be profitable, or will they be about making the NFL the best it can be?  I’m suggesting, and history has shown, you don’t have to choose. I’m asking you to keep the legacy moving forward and make the NFL the best league we can be. And I’m believing that you’re going to do that. Please show me that my faith in you is justified.

Sincerely,

Tony Dungy

What to know about Super Bowl 2023: Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

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The NFL playoffs are in full swing and Super Bowl 2023 will be here before we know it! See below for answers to all of your questions about the big game. Be sure to tune to NBC and Peacock every week for Sunday Night Football games this season and extra content from Mike Florio, Matthew Berry, Chris Simms and more.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs start: dates, schedule, playoff format, overtime rules, and more

Four teams are left heading into the Conference Championships and only two will make it to Super Bowl LVII. Ahead of this weekend, here’s everything you need to know about the biggest game of the NFL season.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

Who is performing the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023?

It was announced in September, that international popstar, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Rihanna will headline the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

When was the last time Rihanna released an album?

Rihanna’s most recent album “Anti” came out in 2016. The Barbados native has spent the last few years venturing into various business industries including beauty, fashion, and makeup. Additionally, the superstar welcomed her first child, a boy, in May of 2022.

Why does the NFL use Roman numerals?

AFL and Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt proposed using Roman numerals for each Super Bowl to add pomp and gravitas to the game. Roman numerals were, unsurprisingly, used in ancient Rome as a number system. I stands for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50 and C for 100. That’s right: In 2066, get ready for Super Bowl C.

Super Bowl V was the first to use Roman numerals. They were retroactively added to the Super Bowl II to IV logos and have been used each year since⁠ until 2016. For Super Bowl L, or 50, the NFL tried out 73 different logos before breaking down and using a plain old “50.”

The Roman numerals for this year’s big game, Super Bowl 57, are LVII.

Which NFL team has the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history?

The Patriots and Steelers are not only familiar with playing on the big stage, but they also know what it takes to come out on top. New England and Pittsburgh are tied for the most Super Bowl victories in the NFL with six each. The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have won five Lombardi Trophies each and the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants are tied with four Super Bowl championships.

  • New England Patriots: 6
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: 6
  • San Francisco 49ers: 5
  • Dallas Cowboys: 5
  • Green Bay Packers: 4
  • New York Giants: 4

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2023 NFL Playoffs: What to know about SF QB Brock Purdy Ahead of NFC Championship game

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The NFC crown is up for grabs on Sunday, and it will be Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles squaring off with Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers to secure a ticket to Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona. These two high-powered teams have both had seasons for the storybooks, but possibly no story this year has been greater than that of “Mr. Irrelevant’s” emergence.

From the 262nd pick in the draft to a third-string quarterbacking role, the odds of Purdy making a splash in the NFL seemed all but impossible at the start of the season. But just months later, the 23-year-old finds himself captaining one of the league’s most storied franchises on a playoff run in hopes of bringing a sixth Lombardi home to the Bay.

The 49ers will take on the Eagles in the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. EST. Let’s take a closer look at Purdy’s emergence from “Mr. Irrelevant” to QB1.

RELATED: 49ers vs. Eagles NFC Championship matchup, series history

Where did Brock Purdy go to college?

Before Purdy was a Niner, he was first an Iowa State Cyclone.

In fact, Purdy rose to stardom in Ames much like he is now doing in San Francisco. Purdy entered the picture at Iowa State as the third-string quarterback, in line for field time behind quarterbacks Kyle Kempt and Zeb Nolan.

The season-opener, however, shook things up. Kempt suffered an MCL injury against Iowa, bumping up Nolan to the role of signal-caller. Nolan then saw a rough three-game stretch, forcing ISU coach Matt Campbell to give the freshman Purdy an opportunity.

Purdy would take this opportunity and run with it. He first entered the scene mid-game against Oklahoma State, leading the Cyclones to a thrilling victory over the Cowboys as they edged them out, 48-42. Purdy was now the man for Iowa State.

In his four-year career, Purdy was simply a winner. He finished his time in Ames as Iowa State’s career leader in passing yards (12,170), total offense (13,347), touchdown passes (81), completions (993), passing efficiency (151.1) and completion percentage (67.7). The wide-eyed freshman with an opportunity developed into the winningest quarterback in Cyclones history (30-17).

RELATED: Eagles DC warned 49ers of ‘electric’ atmosphere at the Linc

Jalen Hurts vs Brock Purdy collegiate record

Sunday’s Conference Championship will not be the first time that Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy have gone head-to-head. The Cyclones faced off with the Oklahoma Sooners in November of 2019.

While the senior Hurts and his offense diced up Iowa State’s defense early, Purdy would charge his team to a comeback from the 35-14 halftime deficit. Purdy led an epic resurgence coming out of the locker room, outscoring the Sooners 27-7. A savvy drive from the sophomore late in the fourth resulted in a 33-yard touchdown to Sean Shaw Jr., cutting the deficit to 42-35 with three minutes remaining.

On the ensuing drive, Hurts made a disastrous mistake, throwing a pass into traffic that was picked off by Lawrence White. With the ball at the Oklahoma 35, Purdy could not be stopped, pulling off a few impressive plays before connecting with Charlie Kolar in the end zone.

The scoreboard now read 42-41, and the Cyclones wanted to end the game right then and there. Purdy dropped back for the two-point conversion, throwing a dart to La’Michael Pettway. The pass hit Pettway’s hands, but was then knocked away by Oklahoma defenders. While the epic comeback could not be completed, it was a game to be remembered.

RELATED: Brock Purdy views time at Iowa State as ‘blessing in disguise’

When was Brock Purdy drafted?

Brock Purdy found a home in San Francisco on Saturday, April 30 when he was selected by the 49ers as the 262nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As Melanie Salata held up the “Mr. Irrelevant” jersey on the NFL Draft stage, no one knew that the name on the back of it would rise to relevance so quickly.

The seventh-round pick was passed over by nearly every NFL team, except for one. Not even the 49ers knew that this selection would hold so much magnitude, as Purdy was merely expected to be a third-string rookie sitting behind starter Trey Lance and backup Nate Sudfeld.

RELATED: CMC vows to be ready for NFC title game despite calf discomfort

How has Brock Purdy fared as an NFL starter?

San Francisco’s blueprint at the beginning of the season would be thrown out the door very quickly. The 49ers made the decision in late August to retain veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and release Sudfeld, allowing Purdy to remain in his third-string role.

When Lance suffered a crushing injury against the Seahawks in just the second game of the season, it seemed clear that Garoppolo was destined to lead the team to its third playoff appearance in four years. Garoppolo would go 6-3 in his next nine starts, making Super Bowl aspirations once again very real for the team that lost the big game just three years prior.

In a critical battle against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12, however, that vision faded. Garoppolo suffered a broken foot on the final play of the team’s opening drive, and “Mr. Irrelevant” was now QB1.

Purdy’s first drive of the game ended in a 3-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk to give San Francisco a 10-7 lead. As with his starting role in Iowa State, Purdy has yet to look back.

RELATED: Brock Purdy’s PFF grades show how well he operates under pressure

He drove the team to a 33-17 victory over Miami, finishing the day 25 for 37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His starting debut came the next week, against none other than the great Tom Brady.

The rookie tore through Tampa Bay, becoming the first quarterback to ever defeat Brady in his first start. The game ended with an emotional hug from his father, who had witnessed his son take down a quarterback who has been playing pro football longer than Brock has been alive.

Purdy remains undefeated as an NFL starter. Since taking over in Week 13, “Mr. Irrelevant” has gone 7-0, with an overtime victory and two playoff triumphs. While many thought the rookie would crumble under postseason pressure, he has yet to let his team down. In the 49ers wild card battle against their division foe Seattle Seahawks, he became the first NFL rookie to score four touchdowns in a playoff game. While the divisional round success over Dallas wasn’t the prettiest victory, Purdy got the job done, advancing his team to the NFC Championship for the second consecutive year.

Will Brock Purdy play in NFC Championship game?

Now, the seventh rounder will clash with a daunting Philadelphia defense for the conference crown, with aspirations of becoming the first rookie quarterback to ever hoist a Lombardi. On Monday ahead of the Conference Championships, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told media that he’d be “very surprised” if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was able to play in Sunday’s game, meaning that Purdy is still QB1, with Josh Johnson as the backup.

RELATED: When was the last time the 49ers made it to, won the Super Bowl?

Has a rookie QB ever started in a Super Bowl?

Should the 49ers advance to the Super Bowl, Purdy has a shot to cap an unbelievable season with a particularly remarkable accomplishment: No rookie quarterback has won a Super Bowl, and in fact, no rookie quarterback has ever started in a Super Bowl.

RELATED: Ranking potential Super Bowl LVII matchups

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023

Check out ProFootballTalk for more on the 2023 NFL Playoffs as well as game previews, picks, recaps, news, rumors and more.