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Mayo Doesn’t Shy Away From Conversation About Race

Personal circumstances aside, Jerod Mayo has plenty of pressure on his shoulders as he takes over as the coach of the New England Patriots. Mayo has to follow a legend in Bill Belichick, who won six Super Bowls during a coaching tenure that lasted more than 20 years and produced over 200 wins. However, Black sports news shows that Mayo had more on his mind than the challenge of following a legend.

Mayo made it a point to address being the first Black coach in Patriots’ history at the introductory press conference. NFL teams have taken a lot of heat over the past 20 years since the Rooney Rule was instituted in 2003. Despite having a rule to encourage hiring minority coaches, the NFL still lags where people believe they should.

Mayo made his feelings on racial issues clear with a simple statement. Typically, people will say they don’t see color. But Mayo’s worldview provides a different opinion.

“I do see color because I believe if you don’t see color, you don’t see racism,” Mayo said.

But this offseason may indicate that things are getting close to changing. Las Vegas is also expected to promote interim coach Antonio Pierce to head coach. The NFL only had three Black head coaches during the 2023 season: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Houston’s DeMeco Ryans, and Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles.

This season, all three Black head coaches in the NFL helped their teams make the postseason. Mayo will have a long road ahead of him to rebuild the Patriots into a Super Bowl contender. 


Who is Jerod Mayo?


Mayo has been ingrained in the Patriots’ culture for a long time. The Patriots drafted him in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Mayo played for New England from 2008 to 2015 and earned the honors of NFL Defensive of the Rookie of the Year. He was named to the Pro Bowl twice and played on the Patriots team that won Super Bowl XLIX.

When Mayo retired, he finished his career with 802 tackles, 11 sacks, and three interceptions. After a few years out of the NFL, Mayo returned to New England to serve as the inside linebackers coach in 2019. He had served with the organization in that capacity before New England owner Robert Kraft hired him as the new head coach.


Belichick’s Last Few Years Saw New England’s Reputation Fade



The Patriots saw their organization change in a significant way when they decided to move on from Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. New England experimented with bringing in veteran quarterback Cam Newton. The Patriots then drafted Alabama product Mac Jones in the first round.

Things haven’t gone well since then. New England has only had one winning record in the past four seasons. The Patriots went 10-7 in 2021 before losing in the first round of the AFC playoffs to the division-rival Buffalo Bills. But more than the losing, New England’s roster construction came under fire. Belichick also served as the general manager in addition to coaching.

While New England’s defense was good, the Patriots’ team overall struggled mightily. The Patriots bottomed out this season, finishing 4-13, by far the worst record during Belichick’s tenure.


Black Coaches Continue to Fight for Respect


The history of minority coaches getting head coaching opportunities in the NFL has been scarce. Tomlin is the longest-tenured Black coach in NFL history, having coached in Pittsburgh for 17 seasons. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, along with Tomlin, are the only two Black coaches to win the Super Bowl.

It was an excellent night for Black coaches when Dungy broke through and won Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears as the Colts’ coach in 2007. Current sports news shows the Bears were led that night by Lovie Smith, who later coached at the University of Illinois and with the Texans.


Can Ryans be a Driver for Change?


The Texans were a mess two years ago. Houston’s team suffered from a controversy with former quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was out of the league for nearly two years and was traded to the Cleveland Browns after he was faced with allegations of sexual assault. Houston decided to bring back former player DeMeco Ryans to coach the team this season.

The Texans were also able to use high draft picks to give Ryans some talent to work with. Houston brought in quarterback C.J. Stroud, who appears to be in position to run away with the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Will Anderson was another good pick at the No. 3 selection and has played well on defense.


Picking the Right Quarterback Will be Vital for Mayo



Having the support of a strong owner will help Mayo. However, New England won’t be able to move forward until it finds its quarterback of the future. Jones has proven he isn’t capable of carrying an NFL team.

The Patriots will have the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft but may be behind two teams looking for quarterbacks in Chicago and Washington. New England’s position in the draft may mean the Patriots will miss out on the top two quarterbacks, USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

While building a strong team is important for New England, finding the right quarterback will mark if the coach can succeed in his new job. Brady brought New England’s franchise to unmatched success over 20 years. Now, the Patriots coaching staff and players will be chasing that kind of glory for the rest of their careers.

Mayo is excited for the challenge of taking over his former team. But Mayo also wants to prove that more Black coaches should get the opportunity he has been afforded. Mayo just needs to develop his own style and find success in the manner in which he is most comfortable.

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