The Atlanta Falcons have reached an agreement to hire Raheem Morris as the team’s new head coach, NFL.com reports.
Morris, who was scheduled to meet with the Seattle Seahawks about their head coach position on Friday (Jan. 26), met Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the executive leadership group and “killed the interview,” a source told CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. The group was also impressed with the energy that Morris brought to the meeting and selected him over Bill Belichick who met with the Falcons for two interviews.
Morris, who will be the first Black head coach in the history of the franchise, expressed his excitement about joining the Falcons in a statement.
"I am overjoyed for the opportunity for my family and me to return to Atlanta as the Falcons head coach," Morris said. "We know from firsthand experience what a first-class organization Atlanta is and what this team means to its city and its fans. I am incredibly appreciative of Arthur Blank for his leadership and for this entire organization for putting its trust in me to help lead this team.”
He also thanked the Rams organization for giving him an opportunity to serve on the coaching staff.
“I can't thank the Rams organization enough for the experience and opportunity with the team. From the (LA Rams owners) Kroenke family, Kevin Demoff, Les Snead, Sean McVay, and the entire staff, the Rams are a first-class organization all around,” he continued. “We loved our time in L.A., loved the fans, and know the Rams continue to have a very bright future."
Blank also released a statement lauding Morris for his many accomplishments and coaching experience.
"This is a historic day for the Atlanta Falcons -- after a comprehensive search we are thrilled to welcome Raheem Morris back to Atlanta as the team's new head coach," Blank’s statement read. "With 26 years of experience in the NFL, including the last three in an outstanding organization that has won our league's championship in that time, Raheem emerged from a field of excellent candidates and is the right leader to take our team into the future.”
Over the past three seasons, Morris has served as the Rams defensive coordinator when the team won Super Bowl LVI. Before that, Morris worked in several capacities in six years with the Falcons including assistant head coach/pass game coordinator, wide receivers coach, defensive coordinator, and for five games was an interim head coach instead.
From 2009-11, Morris was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers posting a record of 17-31.
For the first time in league history, four coaches of color were hired during the same off-season. Adrien Bouchet, author of the NFL’s report card on hiring and director of The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports spoke about the progress that has been made with head coaches in the league.
“It’s tremendously significant. Two years ago, we were talking about how we couldn’t get the number to move up. This year, it seems like it’s moved the needle pretty well,” Bouchet said. “I think it’s a big deal and should be treated as such.”
Morris joins Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots, Antonio Pierce of the Las Vegas Raiders, DeMeco Ryans of the Houston Texans, and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins identifies as biracial) as the only Black coaches in the NFL.
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