With a smile and sounding every bit like a head coach, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy cited the bigger picture as he detailed how he has been handling rejection for a second consecutive year.
Bieniemy was overlooked for each one of the league’s seven head coach vacancies this month having also been snubbed on the back of helping the Chiefs clinch their first Super Bowl crown in 50 years last season.
Andy Reid expressed his disappointment, Patrick Mahomes underlined his amazement and Tyreek Hill admitted his shock as one of the masterminds behind Kansas City’s awe-inspiring offense remarkably saw his expertise again untouched.
“Here’s the unique part about that,” Bieniemy told reporters on Tuesday. “I learned a long time ago how to persevere through adversity. The beauty of it is I don’t have to persevere.
“It’s making sure whatever is happening with Eric Bieniemy is distracting us from pursuing our goals. At the end of the day I’m going to make sure our guys are ready. That’s how you get past that. You move on by making sure we are focused on the goal.
“At this particular time I have not had an opportunity to reach out to anyone or get any feedback. When it’s all said and done, and we have got from today until Sunday, my focus is making sure the Kansas City Chiefs are ready to play and that we are going out there to take care of business.
“I’ll handle Eric Bieniemy’s business on Monday, some time Monday evening or even Tuesday after I take a long night of sleep.”
Familiar neglect for Bieniemy’s services retriggered questions surrounding the league’s pursuit of diversity, an issue the NFL attempted to address further last year with proposals to incentivise the hiring of minority coaches and executives.
The Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin represent the only two black head coaches in the NFL, while Washington’s Ron Rivera is the only Hispanic head coach. After parting ways with Adam Gase at the end of the season the New York Jets made former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh the first-ever Muslim head coach in the league.
Bieniemy insists the setback will not deter him from approaching the offseason in the same way he always does in regards to bolstering his head-coaching manual in view of an opportunity further down the line.
“I did not ask to be the poster boy for this kind of situation,” Bieniemy added. “The only thing I know what to do is to go back to work. My mother raised me to make sure I stay focused.
“During the offseason there are a number of things, you are helping yourself as a coach, you are learning different ways to do things, spending time with general managers to help your growth process and also too making sure you’re continuing to put together your head coaching book with things you learned throughout the year.”
On the subject of diversity across the league, Bieniemy continued: “I heard Todd Bowles say this last week, you don’t ever want to be recognised for what you do by your race or colour, you want to be recognised by how great of a coach you are. When it’s all done with why do we have to keep talking about the colour? In reality these are just good ole ball coaches”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians had also outlined his anger this week after seeing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich barely in contention for one of the open roles.
“I was very, very pissed that Byron didn’t at least get an interview this year,” Arians said. “For the job that he’s done. I think I get way too much credit and so does Ton Brady for the job that Byron has done.
“Hopefully next year people will see that he took Jameis Winston and broke every single record here, scoring and passing, and now Tom has broken both. He’s done a fantastic job, he’s everything supposedly what people are looking for, although this year was kind of a defensive cycle.”
Elsewhere on Virtual Radio Row, Mahomes evidenced Bieniemy’s sentiments to a tee, admitting he has witnessed no change in his offensive coordinator’s mood or approach despite a tough couple of weeks.
While securing a head-coaching job naturally remains a career ambition, Biemiemy reaffirmed it was about “getting the right job”.
“You have to understand the job and the person has to connect,” he added. “The only thing I can do is be my most authentic self. Some team has to want me.
“On top of that there has to be some kind of collaboration to make sure the chemistry fits. At the end of the day I have an opportunity to work with the Chiefs, which is a great organisation, [owner] Clark Hunt, [president] Mark Donovan, one of the best coaches who is a Hall of Fame coach [Andy Reid] and on top of that one of the top GMs in football [Brett Veach].
“The other stuff I can’t control that. The only thing I can worry about is today and what I need to do to help our guys do the best they can do on Sunday.”
Join us on Sky Sports NFL and Main Event from 10pm on Sunday, February 7 for 90 minutes of Super Bowl LV build-up with Kirk Cousins, Dallas Clark and Cliff Avril joining Neil Reynolds and company; Sky One will broadcast the game from 11pm.