Every article that I write about the Rooney Rule is met with a chorus of groans from people who think it’s ridiculous to try to force teams to interview a minority candidate for head coaching or general manager positions in the NFL. These people have their reasons for feeling that way, and they vary.
The NFL is concerned after yet another hiring cycle in which no new minority head coaches were hired (Ron Rivera went from Carolina to Washington) and only one minority general manager was brought in Andrew Berry with the Browns, after Ozzie Newsome—for a long time the only minority general manager—stepped back).
Year after year, they’ve paid lip service to the idea of taking a more significant approach to try to help minority candidates land jobs at significant positions around the league. There is a current proposal about how to do that that, I think, very few people are going to like.
Jim Trotter reported for NFL.com that one of two proposals that will be presented to league owners next week is the idea that teams who hire a minority candidate to a head coaching or general manager position would receive draft compensation for doing so:
If a team hires a minority head coach, that team, in the draft preceding the coach’s second season, would move up six spots from where it is slotted to pick in the third round. A team would jump 10 spots under the same scenario for hiring a person of color as its primary football executive, a position more commonly known as general manager.
If a team were to fill both positions with diverse candidates in the same year, that club could jump 16 spots — six for the coach, 10 for the GM — and potentially move from the top of the third round to the middle of the second round. Another incentive: a team’s fourth-round pick would climb five spots in the draft preceding the coach’s or GM’s third year if he is still with the team. That is considered significant because Steve Wilks and Vance Joseph, two of the four African-American head coaches hired since 2017, were fired after one and two seasons, respectively.
I am all for seeking ways to put more qualified minority coaches and executives into positions around the NFL, but I don’t think I’m going to get much of any argument here when I say that I don’t believe this is the way to do it.
The other proposal is one I would be more in favor for, though it would probably have a limited impact. The suggestion is to remove the right for teams to assistants from interviewing for coordinator positions
Right now, there aren’t a lot of minority coordinators, especially on offense. Eric Bieniemy and Byron Leftwich are literally the only two. And Leftwich was only promoted last year when Bruce Arians took over in Tampa Bay. The vast majority of new head coaching hires come from the coordinator positions.
There is also draft compensation behind a team losing a coach for a coordinator job, with the loss of a minority coach yielding a third-round compensatory pick, and a non-minority coach a fifth-round. Teams who hire a minority quarterbacks coach and retain him beyond one season would receive a fourth-round compensatory pick.