Black History

Jerod Mayo talks race, takes post as first Black Patriots head coach

The New England Patriots' latest head coach didn't shy away from disagreeing with the team's owner, Robert Kraft, as they spoke to the press.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and newly-named Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The New England Patriots' latest head coach Jerod Mayo did not shy away from making his disagreements with the team's owner Robert Kraft known as they both spoke to the press to publicly introduce their new partnership. 

It was an important moment, addressing race as Mayo takes the helm of the team making history as its first Black head coach. 

Kraft, 82, was asked about the significance of Mayo's new rank as head coach, and said, "Let me say this to you, I'm really colorblind in terms of what I feel like on Sunday when we lose."

He told reporters, "I chose the best head coach for this organization. He happens to be a man of color, but I chose him because I believe he’s the best to do the job."

Mayo responded — signaling his intention to look at his latest role on the team, and his racial identity connected to it, in the context of the times — and said, "I do see color because I believe if you don't see color you can't see racism."

Maybe it was a disagreement, maybe it was an attempt to clarify how he felt about the historic ascension in sports history. Time will tell how Mayo plans to lead. One thing is for certain, Mayo is "not trying to be" Bill Belichick, the man he replaced, he said. 

Mayo did say he plans to manage expectations and he told fans and the sports press, "We're going to be a lot better."

An agreement Mayo has with "Thunder," a nickname for Kraft, is to just surround "yourself with good people," he said this week. 

Patriots agree to hire Jerod Mayo as next head coach
Patriots agree to hire Jerod Mayo as next head coach

Patriots agree to hire Jerod Mayo as next head coach

Mayo was one of the coaches who handled the play calling duties for the Patriots defense over the past two seasons.

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Mayo has now officially replaced Belichick, a six-time Super Bowl-winning coach. 

Mayo made another historic first, becoming the NFL's youngest head coach at 37. He is the NFL's fourth Black coach joining the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Todd Bowles and the Houston Texans' DeMeco Ryans.

Sports Illustrated clarified that the Miami Dolphins' coach, Mike McDaniel, has publicly identified as multiracial; he is the son of a Black father. 

While some reports called Kraft's comments on race an attempt to downplay the topic, Mayo has signaled that he is comfortable with being outspoken on his views. 

The Washington Post reported that before Mayo's hiring, there were 13 NFL teams that had never hired a Black coach. Now there are 12. That's in a league in which around 60% of the players are Black, Sports Illustrated reported. 

Belichick, when he was head coach, also served as the Patriot's de facto general manager. It's unclear if Mayo will also see as much control off the field as his predecessor.