The National Football League is mulling the implementation of a new policy to encourage teams to hire a black head coach or general manager, by offering to boost the draft position of a team that makes such a hire.
The league took criticism this year when a black candidate was hired for only one of five head coaching jobs that had recently come open. Several months ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the league wanted to encourage teams to hire black coaches, and now it looks like moves are being made to facilitate that plan.
According to NFL.com, several new proposals are in the offing that officials hope will prepare the way for more black coaches to be hired.
The first measure is the elimination of a much-criticized rule that prevents assistant coaches from being interviewed for head coaching jobs. A second measure is an incentive plan that gives teams a leg up in the Draft if they hire a black head coach.
According to NFL.com’s insider report:
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 ten 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.
Officials hope that these new measures will increase the number of minorities in key positions. Currently, only three of the NFL’s 32 teams have black head coaches, and only two of 32 GM positions were filled by a black candidate.
Under the proposed resolution, clubs would be prohibited from the end of the regular season to March 1 from denying an assistant coach the opportunity to interview with a new team for a “bona fide” coordinator position on offense, defense, or special teams. Any dispute about the legitimacy of the position would be heard by the commissioner, and his determination would be “final, binding and not subject to further review.”
If a minority assistant left to become a coordinator elsewhere, his former club would receive a fifth-round compensatory pick. And if a person of color leaves to become a head coach or general manager, his previous team would receive a third-round compensatory pick.
Yet a third proposal would give a team a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round in the NFL Draft if they hire a minority candidate for its quarterbacks coach, and he serves for an entire season.
If passed, these will be the first rules to address the need for minority coaches since the Rooney Rule was adopted in 2003.
The Rooney Rule is a league policy named after late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who helped draft the NFL rule that requires any team looking for a new head coach or team executive must interview at least one minority candidate for consideration.
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