Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
A vast minority
While more than 70 percent of NFL players are black, only six of the 32 coaches are African-American.
By JOANNA KORTH
Published January 29, 2007
Eighteen years after Doug Williams threw his final NFL pass, the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl enjoyed his most fulfilling week in the league. Witnessing history was better than making it. Williams broke the color barrier in 1988, when he stepped into the huddle in Super Bowl XXII. After answering questions about the significance of his race for a week, Williams threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns and was selected the game's MVP in Washington's 42-10 victory against Denver.
At the time, Williams failed to grasp the impact of his accomplishment, even as his former Grambling coach, Eddie Robinson, met him in the tunnel of San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium after the game and uttered the names of African-American pioneers Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph.
"I had no idea," said Williams, 51, now a pro personnel scout with the Buccaneers. "I didn't understand where he was coming from. I have a better understanding now that I'm older and I've been able to live through the past two weeks."
Now, no one bats an eye at black quarterbacks.
Perhaps the same soon will be true of black coaches.
And beyond that, general managers.
The first 40 editions of the Super Bowl were played without an African-American head coach. So imagine Williams' delight over Super Bowl XLI in Miami, where two black head coaches will walk the sideline. Chicago's Lovie Smith became the first to break through when the Bears won the NFC championship on Jan. 21. Later that day, Tony Dungy joined him when the Colts won the AFC title.
At game's end, one will cradle the Lombardi Trophy. Just as Williams did.
"The past couple of weeks have been great for African-Americans and minorities as far as getting opportunities," said Williams, citing the Giants' promotion of Jerry Reese to general manager and Steelers' hiring of 34-year-old coach Mike Tomlin.
"The bottom line is opportunity. You don't know what a man deserves until you give him an opportunity. Now the powers that be will make decisions not based on who they're comfortable having coffee with, but thinking about the team they have assembled."
Smith, 48, got his first NFL coaching job in 1996 as a member of Dungy's staff in Tampa Bay. The men are close friends and speculated a month ago how special it would be to meet in the Super Bowl.
"I'm very, very proud as an African-American," Dungy said. "It's going to be special."
When Dungy, now 51, became an NFL assistant in 1981, there were barely more than a dozen black assistants in the league. When he became head coach of the Bucs in 1996, Dungy felt pressure to succeed, not to prove black coaches could, but because his success could create opportunities for other black coaches.
After all, the NFL had a long history of failing to create hiring opportunities for minorities, especially the highest-profile coaching and front-office jobs.
In 1989, Raiders owner Al Davis hired Art Shell as the first black head coach of the NFL's modern era and first since Fritz Pollard in the 1920s.
Progress was slow.
In 2002, attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri published a report titled "Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performances, Inferior Opportunities." At the time, the report cited an alarming statistic: Since the NFL began in 1920, more than 400 head coaches had been hired, but only six of them African-Americans.
The same year, influential Steelers owner Dan Rooney proposed a rule, known colloquially as the Rooney Rule, requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coaching vacancy.
Currently, six of the NFL's 32 teams have black coaches, though nearly 70 percent of players are African-American.
"We're making progress slowly," Colts and former Bucs defensive tackle Anthony McFarland said. "I don't think players think of 'black players' and 'white players.' It shows that for Tony and Lovie to come this far that there are at least some organizations that have confidence that black men can be head coaches. I hope it goes beyond that so that we don't have to think of their race."
While he realizes the magnitude of the stage upon which he and Dungy will stand for the next seven days, he prefers to be thought of as a coach rather than a black coach.
"I hope for a day when it is unnoticed," Smith said.
"But that day isn't here yet."
Joanne Korth can be reached at korth@ sptimes.com or (727) 893-8810.