“I think that there has been progress of some sort,” Panthers owner David Tepper said at an afternoon news conference. “But, look, we’re just not getting over the hump. And we’ve got to get over the hump.”
The Panthers went 11-27 under Rhule, whom Tepper fired five games into his third NFL season. Rhule never was able to achieve the level of success he had managed in the college ranks at Temple and Baylor.
Steve Wilks, a Charlotte native, could be a candidate for the head coaching job on a more permanent basis, Tepper said.
The Cardinals fired Wilks in 2018 after he spent one season as their coach. The team went 3-13. In April, Wilks and another Black coach, Ray Horton, joined Brian Flores’s racial discrimination lawsuitagainst the NFL and teams. Flores filed the lawsuit in February in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The lawsuit claims Wilks served as a “bridge coach” who didn’t get “a meaningful opportunity to succeed.” It contrasted the Cardinals’ dismissal of Wilks with their retention of General Manager Steve Keim, whom they fined and suspended in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence.
“Like many other Black Head Coaches, Mr. Wilks has never been given a second opportunity to become the Head Coach of any other NFL team,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Wilks is unfortunately not an anomaly or an exception to the rule. To the contrary, the discriminatory treatment towards Mr. Wilks is just part and parcel to the ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination in the NFL when it comes to the NFL’s Head Coach, Coordinator and Executive hiring and employment decisions.”
Wilks becomes the NFL’s fourth active Black head coach. He joins the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Houston Texans’ Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles. Smith and Bowles were the only Black head coaches hired during the most recent cycle in which 10 teams changed coaches