Written by Bosun
In 2003, the NFL established the Rooney Rule as a way to give minorities a better chance to land a head coaching job in the league.
Even though the rule led to an increase in hiring minority coaches in the league, it hasn’t worked out as well as the league initially hoped with teams finding a loophole to the rule by bringing in minorities for interviews even though they already have another non-minority candidate they plan to hire.
To better illustrate how ineffective the Rooney Rule has been in recent years, only three of the past 20 NFL head-coaching hires were minorities, while two of the NFL's 32 general managers are minorities.
In 2019 New York Jets’ Adam Gase, who was fired by the Miami Dolphins after going 23-25 in three seasons, quickly landed on his feet after getting fired while head coaches like Marvin Lewis, who despite not winning a playoff game, turned the Cincinnati Bengals around, but couldn’t get an interview for one of the open head coaching positions.
In 2016, the Detroit Lions fired Jim Caldwell, who inherited a team that was coming off two consecutive losing seasons, as their head coach despite three winning seasons in four years because the team didn’t advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Since Caldwell was fired, the Lions have gone 9-22-1 in two seasons, but head coach Matt Patricia hasn’t been fired.
In February, during Super Bowl week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the league’s need to provide more opportunities for minorities to become head coaches and general managers.
"Clearly we are not where we want to be on this level," Goodell said. "It's clear we need to change. We have already begun discussing those changes, what stages we can take next to determine better outcomes."
According to reports, the NFL has come up with a proposal to increase minority hires by improving draft picks for teams that hire minority head coaches or general managers.
The proposal will remove the current anti-tampering laws that allows teams to block assistant coaches from interviewing for coordinator positions with other teams, even though being a coordinator is typically the most significant step in becoming a head coach.
It would also incentivize the hiring of minorities as head coaches or executives by improving the team’s draft slots as followed:
If a team hires a minority head coach, that team, in the draft before 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 minority as its general manager.
If a team were to hire minorities to fill both positions in the same year, that team 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.
A team's fourth-round pick would climb five spots in the draft before the coach's or GM's third year if he is still with the team. That is considered significant because of Steve Wilks and Vance Joseph, two minority head coaches who were fired after one and two seasons, respectively.
If the proposal passes, it should help improve minority hires around the league because teams will try to do whatever they can to improve their draft positions. However, in a league that is mired in nepotism and rethreads, how much of a difference it will make is unclear.
The proposal, which was submitted by the league’s diversity committee, is expected to be addressed during Tuesday's virtual meeting with team owners, a league source confirmed. The proposal would need 24 of 32 votes in favor to pass.