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New Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel on race: ‘I identify as a human being’

“I think people identify me as something, but I identity as a human being and my dad’s Black,” said McDaniel.

The Miami Dolphins newly hired head coach Mike McDaniel is speaking out about the “odd” questions surrounding racial identity. 

“It’s been very odd, to tell you the truth, this idea of ‘identifying’ as something,” McDaniel told reporters Thursday. “I think people identify me as something, but I identity as a human being and my dad’s Black.”

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

McDaniel, who is biracial, replaces Brian Flores, who was fired despite posting winning records in the final two of his three seasons in Miami.

Flores is taking legal action against the NFL, the Dolphins, and two other teams over alleged racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers, saying the league remains “rife with racism” even as it publicly condemns it.

McDaniel worked under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for the past 11 seasons and gets his first shot as a head coach after only one year as offensive coordinator.

Following the announcement of McDaniels’ hiring, there’s been much conversation about his race and ethnic background, as it’s not readily discernible that he’s biracial.

“It’s weird that it comes up because I’ve just tried to be a good person,” McDaniel told the media Thursday. “And I think my background opens my eyes a little bit. I don’t have any real experience with racism because I think you identify me as something close to — I don’t know. I know my mom experienced it when she married my dad. I know my dad experienced it and that’s in my family. But I guess that makes me a human being that can identify with other people’s problems.”

A recent Deadspin report identified McDaniel as White. 

Mike McDaniel on people talking about his racial background “It’s been very odd…I identify as a human being and my dad’s black” pic.twitter.com/XRRrNsNsc1

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 10, 2022

McDaniel, who has a white mother and a Black father, identifies as multiracial. His hiring comes amid continued talks about the diversity problem among the NFL’s head coaches. 

“That’s how HE identifies as multiracial, okay, fine. This was a conversation, last week, about Black men, not getting jobs in the National Football League as head coaches,” said Stephen A. Smith on First Take, Mediaite reports. 

“What I’m saying is the conversation, last week, pertaining to the Brian Flores situation is the scarcity of Black men who have been given opportunities to be head coaches in the National Football League,” Smith continued Monday on ESPN’s First Take.

Mike McDaniel poses with his wife Katie and daughter Alya June, after a press conference on Feb. 10, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

More than 70% of NFL players are Black, and now that Flores has been relieved of his duties with Miami, there remain only two Black head coaches in the league, Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, now the second longest-tenured coach in the NFL.

The year’s hiring cycle is a stark reminder of the failure of the NFL’s decades-old Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate when filling head coach and general manager positions.

Many believe the NFL continues to make a mockery of the Rooney Rule by continuing to fail to address the league’s lack of diversity at the highest positions.  

“Clearly, we are not where we want to be on this level,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in 2018. “We have a lot of work that’s gone into not only the Rooney Rule but our policies overall. It’s clear we need to change and do something different.”

“There’s no reason to expect we’re going to have a different outcome next year without those kinds of changes,” he added.

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