Later today, the league’s owners are expected to put tot vote two proposals that would amend the Rooney Rule, one of which has quickly become exceedingly controversial. It proposes to award teams with draft pick positioning compensation for hiring minority candidates to head coaching and general manager roles.
There will be a virtual owners meeting conducted today, and these proposals are only a part of what will be discussed, but they will be put to a vote, and if a two-thirds majority—24 votes—approves it, then it will go into effect immediately.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “there’s a persistent belief that the rule will pass”, even with some significant opposition by the likes of Tony Dungy, the first African-American head coach to ever win a Super Bowl, and Anthony Lynn, one of just four current minority head coaches.
“I don’t think you can legislate the right thing. I don’t think you can legislate fairness. So to me you have to do other things to kind of try to create that”, Dungy said. He suggested that, if he were the commissioner, he would get the owners to sit down and really think about the qualities that they’re looking for in candidates.
“I think more than anything, getting owners to really spell it out, then you can come and say, ‘okay, if that’s what you’re looking for, here are some people who fall into that category. Here’s people you can look at’, and will have a much better way of going. Right now, I think so many owners, at least the ones I talk to, when they’re in the process, they really don’t know what they’re looking for”.
Florio also wrote that there is “a lot of lobbying” being done to sell the proposal on the league’s behalf. One wonders how long this idea has been brewing, since it only surfaced in the past week. It’s entirely plausible that it was deliberately kept under wraps in order to avoid the backlash.
Personally, I have serious doubts as to whether or not the proposal would be effective. While moving up several draft slots is certainly some incentive, it frankly is no comparison to the potential impact that hiring the right head coach or general manager could have. It’s not like you’re going from drafting 32nd to into the top 10, where you can land a franchise player.
How many teams are going to choose to hire a black head coach over a white head coach in order to move up six spots in the third round? In the absolute best-case scenario, you can go from the 65th selection (the first pick in the third round) to 59th (among the final picks of the second round).
But if you’re drafting first in the round, you probably are bad enough that you want to focus on making sure you’re hiring the best possible head-coaching candidate, such that moving up several spots in the early-middle sounds is meaningless in comparison.