Eric Bieniemy passed over for NFL head coaching position yet again. Is the window closed?

In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series "29 Black Stories in 29 Days." We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the fourth installment of the series.

Over the past six years Eric Bieniemy has been interviewed by about half of the NFL for a head coaching position. The end result? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Bieniemy was Kansas City's offensive coordinator from 2018-2022. He led one of the most potent offenses in football. It's true that Andy Reid was the top offensive mind on the team (he's maybe the top offensive mind in the sport) but it's also true that we haven't seen anything in recent league history like what happened to Bieniemy...with one possible exception. More on that in a moment.

What do I mean? As a general rule, and likely in the 99th percentile, when an offensive coordinator has the kind of success Bieniemy has, if they want to, they get head coaching positions. In the NFL, it is the order of things.

Not with Bieniemy. In fact, he became so concerned about the lack of head coaching opportunities that he took a desperate gambit and became the offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders. The belief was that by getting out from under the legend of Reid and, superficially at least, charting his own course with a different franchise (and by calling plays), the head coaching chances would come. That didn't happen. Coach Ron Rivera was fired and Bieniemy was passed over again (this time by his own team) after Washington on Thursday hired Dan Quinn.

Eric Bieniemy speaks after being introduced as the new Washington Commanders offensive coordinator and assistant head coach during an introductory press conference at Commanders Park.
Eric Bieniemy speaks after being introduced as the new Washington Commanders offensive coordinator and assistant head coach during an introductory press conference at Commanders Park.

What does this all mean? We might be seeing the official end of the head coaching opportunities for Bieniemy.

So the question is, what happened? I think there's four main possibilities:

The harsher standard effect. So far there have been four head coaches of color hired, a record for a single cycle. Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe some of the league's owners are opening their minds (finally). Whatever the reason, it didn't extend to Bieniemy, now or in the past. He was held to a standard that we've rarely seen before.

It's difficult to imagine, if not impossible, a white version of Bieniemy not getting an opportunity.

The Reid-Mahomes effect. Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes are so good that Bieniemy effectively didn't get credit for the work he did. Again, this is an extremely rare phenomenon. For example, Josh McDaniels, the former offensive coordinator for the Patriots, wasn't penalized in this way for coaching Tom Brady.

Maybe he wasn't actually that good effect. This is not something I think or the Kansas City staff and players believed. Mahomes recently said that Bieniemy held all the players accountable which led to the cutting back of mistakes. “I think Coach Bieniemy set that standard when he was here," Mahomes said.

Bieniemy was good at his job. It's just wasn't seen that way outside of Kansas City.

Bieniemy is a psyop. Created in a Pentagon lab and designed specifically to weaken the Commanders leading to the firing of Ron Rivera and the hiring of a new head coach that is pro-Democrat who would then help push for the reelection of Joe Biden. Just kidding.

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However, on a more serious note, there are two things to consider. Kansas City did reach the Super Bowl without Bieniemy. It wasn't always pretty but they're in the game. Also, the offense in Washington under Bieniemy was erratic, to say the least. Some of that was Bieniemy's fault; some of it wasn't. There were massive personnel issues that even Joe Gibbs couldn't fix.

In the end, it's possible that Bieniemy will go down as one of the more remarkable examples of someone who was massively overqualified for a head coaching opportunity but didn't get one. The last time we saw something like this was the exception I mentioned earlier. That exception is named Sherman Lewis.

He was the offensive coordinator for the Packers from 1992-1999 and like Bieniemy, he's Black. Also like Bieniemy, he ran a powerful offense, was interviewed for head coaching positions, but never got one despite deserving it. Lewis, working with coach Mike Holmgren, helped propel the Packers to the Super Bowl. The two men had worked together in San Francisco under Bill Walsh.

“All those years, we worked side by side in the offensive room in San Francisco,” Holmgren recently explained. “He was exactly what Coach Walsh loved in a coach. He’s not a screamer or yeller. He’s a great teacher, with a great sense of humor. In Green Bay, he did it all. He ran all the meetings, did the install, everything. The only thing I kept for myself was the red-zone stuff. The only reason he didn’t call plays during games was because that was one of the fun things about coaching for me.”

Decades after Sherman, there's Bieniemy.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eric Bieniemy's coaching prospects dwindle with Chiefs in Super Bowl