Jim Trotter, NFL.com, May 15, 2020
During his state of the league address three months ago at Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged a need to increase the opportunities for minorities to become head coaches and general managers.
“Clearly we are not where we want to be on this level,” he 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.”
The call to action grew even louder after only one of the five coaching vacancies during the offseason was filled by a person of color, continuing a trend in which just three of the past 20 openings have gone to a minority. Now in perhaps its most aggressive and controversial attempt to address the issue, the league will present a pair of resolutions this coming Tuesday during the owners’ virtual meeting that it hopes will level the playing field.
The first would remove the longstanding anti-tampering barrier that permits clubs to block assistant coaches from interviewing for coordinator positions with other clubs, even though having coordinator experience is typically the final and most significant step in becoming a head coach. The other would incentivize the hiring of minorities as head coaches or primary football executives by rewarding teams with improved draft slots, multiple sources told NFL.com.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic. The league declined to comment Friday on this specific agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. But if the resolutions were to be voted in under the League Policy on Equal Employment and Workplace Diversity, they would work as follows:
- 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 10 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.