David Culley was confirmed as the new head coach of the Houston Texans on Friday, the only Black coach to be appointed to a head coaching role in a wave of hirings after the 2020 regular season.
Culley, an NFL assistant coach since 1994, has spent the past two seasons as assistant head coach, passing coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens.
The 65-year-old's appointment makes him only the third Black head coach currently working in the NFL along with Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin and Miami's Brian Flores.
"To say that I'm excited and that this is a dream come true is an understatement," Culley said.
"Along the way, I have had countless people, organizations, family members and friends pour into me and prepare a path for me. My genuine hope is that this moment is as much theirs as it is mine. Let's get to work."
Culley's appointment comes amid criticism of NFL hiring policies for Black and minority coaches in recent seasons, with claims that teams regularly promote white coaches ahead of more qualified minority counterparts.
Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who is Black, has consistently missed out on a string of head coaching openings in the past two years.
Culley replaces Bill O'Brien, who was fired after an 0-4 start to the 2020 campaign.
Romeo Crennel, the first Black head coach to guide the Texans, went 4-8 as an interim coach to complete the season.
Culley spent 16 years as a collegiate assistant coach before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a wide receivers coach 27 years ago. He also served as receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs and as a quarterback coach for the Buffalo Bills before joining the Ravens in 2019.
Teams where he was on staff combined for 10 division titles, 17 playoffs appearances and six conference finals.
"Throughout his entire coaching career, David has shown an ability to lead and bring people together," said Texans chairman Cal McNair. "David brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team as somebody who has seen it all in this league."
Culley's mission will be to rebuild a team that went 4-12 twice in the past four seasons and whose star quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has reportedly asked to be traded after signing a four-year contract extension woth $177.5 million last September.
"During our meetings with David, it was evident he has the energy, communication skills and vision required to build a winning program," McNair said.
The Texans have never gone beyond the second round of the NFL playoffs.
"Heading into this process, it was imperative to find a head coach that our entire organization could rally behind and David is unquestionably that leader," Texans general manager Nick Caserio said.