Houston Texans Hire DeMeco Ryans As New Head Coach, Adding To Number Of Black Team Leaders In NFL
DeMeco Ryans, the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, was hired as the new head coach of the Houston Texans, the franchise announced Tuesday (Jan. 31).
On the final day of the 2022 regular season, Houston fired coach Lovie Smith after just one season at the helm. At that point, there were just two confirmed Black head coaches for next season: Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin and Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"We are thrilled to welcome DeMeco Ryans as the new head coach of the Houston Texans. For so many reasons, DeMeco is everything we are looking for in a leader and coach for our organization, Texans owner Cal McNair said in a statement. “He has a proven track record for developing high-quality players and constantly innovated his defensive scheme over the last six seasons in San Francisco.”
ESPN reports that Houston and Ryans, 38, agreed to a six-year deal, making the Texans the first NFL team to have hired three consecutive Black coaches.
At the end of the 2022 season, Ryans “came up early and often in the head coach interview cycle,” NBC News reports. Four teams – Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Texans and Phoenix Cardinals – all requested permission from the 49ers to interview him. Many were impressed with his ability to turn the 49ers into one of the league's top defenses.
This is a homecoming for the new head coach. The University of Alabama linebacker was a second-round draft pick by the Texans and played 10 years in the NFL with Houston and the Philadelphia Eagles.
“H-town I’m back. It’s great to be home. Go Texans,” he said in a social media post.
This comes against the backdrop of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ bombshell lawsuit last year against the NFL and three of its franchises. He alleged that the league engages in racist hiring practices that blocked qualified Black candidates from advancing to the highest ranks of the league.
According to a USA Today analysis, diversity is a problem for the league. The NFL’s 32 franchises have hired four white coaches for every coach of color over the two decades since adopting the Rooney Rule, a 2003 diversity policy that requires teams to give serious consideration to minority candidates for top on-field and front-office positions.