Just days after news surfaced that legendary New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would not be returning for another season, his replacement was announced.
Jerod Mayo, an eight-year veteran Patriots player who went on to serve as the team’s linebackers coach, will not only be the NFL’s first Black head coach, but at the age of 37, will also be its youngest.
It did not take Mayo long to inject his race into the discussion during a new conference held on Wednesday alongside team owner Robert Kraft.
“Being the first Black coach here in New England means a lot to me,” he said. “You have to take ideas from other people: Black, White, green, yellow, it really doesn’t matter.”
Mayo went on to describe his vision for the next chapter in his career and the franchise’s history, explaining: “I want people around me that are going to question my ideas or question the way we have done things in the past, because realistically, this game is a lot different from when I was drafted in 2008.”
Kraft responded to a question seeking his reaction to the groundbreaking decision to hire a Black coach, asserting that he is “colorblind” and focused primarily on the success of the team.
“I can just tell you that after my family, my passion is with the New England Patriots and there’s something else very close second, but winning with the Patriots is my passion,” he said. “So I want to get the best people we can get. 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 then chimed in with a notably different take on the matter.
“What I will say though is I do see color,” he said. “I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism. What I would say is I want you to be able to go up to those people and really understand those people. So it goes back to, whatever it is, Black, White, yellow, it really doesn’t matter. But it does matter so we can try to fix the problem that we all know we have.”
His remarks resonated with some viewers, including former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Jerod Mayo is the 1st Black Head Coach of the @Patriots and he doesn’t shy away from it or any issues about race in our country.
“I do see color because I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism…I want you to be able to go up to those people and understand those… pic.twitter.com/sCSsMjR9Se
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 17, 2024
In a follow-up interview, however, Mayo sought to iron out some of the differences between his opinion and that of the team’s owner.
“I understand where Robert was coming from,” he said, suggesting that Kraft “was talking about in the building and in football” but he was “talking about in the world.”
Based on his own life experiences, Mayo concluded: “I thought that was something that needed to be said.”