NFL Approves Rooney Rule Changes, Defer Draft Incentives For Hiring Minorities

NFL owners approved new measures aimed at improving diversity in the hiring of head coaches and managers, but paused the passage of a resolution that would have rewarded hiring minorities with a better position to recruit in the draft.

The NFL Network reported last week that the owners were considering a proposal that would have improved the teams’ ranking position in the third-round pick by six or 10 places if they hired a minority candidate for vacant GM or coach positions in boss, as well as other compensation for hiring minority candidates for positions such as quarterbacks coach.

However, at Tuesday’s virtual meeting, resolutions involving college teams were postponed and could be considered later.


NFL rules stipulate that 24 of 32 teams must vote in favor to pass a resolution and that it takes effect. The postponement of the resolution on college teams indicates that it did not have sufficient support to pass this time.

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Either way, the owners approved new measures that they hope will improve what they recognized has become an unacceptable trend of minority hires in leadership positions in franchises.

Among them are the following:

From now on, teams must interview at least two candidates external to their organization for any vacancy in the position of head coach and at least one external for the positions of offensive, defensive and special teams coordinator.

Previously, Rule Rooney had required teams to interview only one minority candidate for the coach position and none for the coordinator position.

The NFL changed its anti-tampering policy to relax rules that allowed teams to deny assistant coaches and managers the opportunity to interview for other jobs with other franchises.

The resolution passed Tuesday, according to the NFL, establishes a system “that prohibits a club from denying (1) an assistant coach the opportunity to interview in good faith with a new team for work as an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator or coordinator of special teams and (2) a non-high-level or secondary-level manager interview in good faith for the position of assistant general manager. ”

The policy requires that each team submit an organizational chart with specific descriptions of the responsibilities of each coach and that it stipulate that any dispute over the definition of “good faith” in such cases will be resolved by the commissioner.

The Rooney Rule was expanded to apply to other managerial positions. Teams and the league now require interviewing “minority or female applicants” for positions as team president and “senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal affairs, sports operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, technology information and security positions ”.

Each of the 32 teams will establish a minority training scholarship program, which will be for full-time, one- or two-year jobs to give “NFL Legends, minority and female participants, hands-on training to direct in the NFL.

The idea is to establish a larger sample of qualified candidates from which head coach candidates are drawn.

Only one of the new head coaches hired in the current offseason, Ron Rivera with the Washington Redskins, was a minority candidate. Three of the last 20 head coach hires have been minority and there are currently four African-American coaches in the league.

According to a source, the NFL’s workplace diversity committee decided in this off-season that they needed to propose “something daring” to solve the current problem, and from there came the idea of ​​encouraging the draft to hire minority. The league expects the changes instituted Tuesday to have long-term impact.

“We believe these new policies demonstrate the commitment of NFL owners to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the NFL,” Art Rooney II, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said in a league statement. “The development of young coaches and managers is key to our future. These steps will ensure that sports and management personnel have a fair and equal opportunity to advance our sports operations. ”

Eric Bienemy, offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and who has not had an offer to work as a head coach despite interviewing for that position the past two years, spoke to the media on the matter.

Bienemy discussed the Rooney Rule and the proposed changes that were postponed regarding college picks and minority hiring.

“As a coach, you always have to be judged on your own merit,” he said.

Bienemy also applauded the rule changes that allow attendees the opportunity to interview for positions as coordinator.

“It is important regardless of the color of the skin. There is no difference, “said Bienemy. “Now they give you the opportunity to interview the best coach for that particular position. With all that discussion exposed, different doors were opened for many people. I’m happy that the changes were approved, so those coaches can have a chance. ”