New York Jets Hire First Muslim Head Coach In NFL History

Advocacy groups are praising Saleh as “a role model for young Arab Americans” and calling the decision a “sign of the increasing inclusion and recognition of American Muslims.”

Robert Saleh talks into his Bose radio headset during the NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals on September 13, 2020.

Robert Saleh is set to become the NFL’s first-ever Muslim head coach after agreeing to a deal with the New York Jets.

The Jets announced the agreement on Thursday, stating that Saleh “will become the Jets' 20th head coach in franchise history and their 18th coach appointed to take Green & White reins before the start of a new season.”

Saleh, who is from Dearborn, MI and is of Lebanese descent, has spent the past four years as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He has also worked for other NFL teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seattle Seahawks, according to the Jets’ announcement.

The Jets’ deal makes Saleh the first ever Muslim head coach for an NFL team according to an NBC report citing a statement from the advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“We welcome this development as another sign of the increasing inclusion and recognition of American Muslims in our diverse society,” council spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper said via a statement Thursday on CAIR’s Twitter and NBC’s report.

Saleh will also become the third Arab American NFL head coach, the prior two being former Chicago Bears head coach Abe Gibron, and Rich Kotite, who coached the Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).

“We congratulate Robert on this achievement. He has shown that Arab Americans can excel at any level, and in any field,” the ADC said on Friday. “He serves as a role model for young Arab Americans, showing them that with hard work, commitment and dedication they can achieve their goals.”

Adnan Khan contributed to this report.