At the moment, there are more minority general managers in the National Football League than there are minority head coaches. I can’t say with certainty but I expect this is a first in the history of the league. That is actually significant considering that fairly recently and for quite a while, the Baltimore Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome was the only minority general manager.
After he stepped back into another role, there were two—the Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Berry and the Miami Dolphins’ Chris Grier. Last year’s hiring cycle saw the hiring of Martin Mayhew for the Washington Football Team and Brad Holmes by the Detroit Lions. So far this year, a fifth minority general manager emerged from the Browns organization.
The Minnesota Vikings announced yesterday the hiring of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to be their next general manager. Adofo-Mensah was brought on board by Berry in 2019 when he was hired as general manager, having previously spent time with the San Francisco 49ers in a football research capacity. He was the vice president of football operations with the Browns.
So why is this relevant, exactly? It’s not just that the Browns lost a key executive—that’s not typically something that would generate an article here except at the very slowest portions of the offseason, perhaps. It’s the fact that they lost a minority executive, and as of last year, that comes with draft implications.
For losing a minority coach or executive to promotions to head coach or general manager (or an equivalent title/role), the Rooney Rule as of 2021 stipulates that teams will be compensated in the form of two third-round compensatory draft picks—one per year.
The Baltimore Ravens were among the first teams to benefit from this after the Houston Texans hired David Culley to be their head coach. They got an extra third-round draft choice last year, and have another one coming this year. Now the Browns will have an extra third-round pick in 2022, and another in 2023, for the loss of Adofo-Mensah.
This modification of the Rooney Rule that compensates teams for the losses of minority coaches and executives was designed to encourage and incentivize teams to foster the growth and development of minorities in these areas.
Thus far, through one and a half hiring cycles, there have been five pairs of draft picks* handed out to teams as a result of this rule change, including the hiring of Robert Saleh by the New York Jets to be head coach last year. It’s likely that at least one or two more will be this year. Byron Leftwich has been reported as close to getting the head coaching job in Jacksonville, and Eric Bieniemy likely lands somewhere this time around as well.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have two minority executives who are taking interviews this cycle in Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt. The loss of either one of them would trigger the compensation of draft picks as discussed above.
*Because the 49ers lost both coach Saleh and executive Mayhew in the same offseason, the rules stipulate that they be rewarded not two pairs of two third-round picks, but rather three third-round picks in total, one per year.