The NFL plans to expand the league’s Rooney Rule in the aftermath of zero minority hires among the 14 head coach and general manager positions so far this offseason.
NFL executive vice president of Human Resources Robert Gulliver said in a statement issued by the league Friday: “While there has been full compliance with the interview requirements of the Rooney Rule and we wish the new head coaches and general managers much success, the hiring results this year have been unexpected and reflect a disappointing lack of diversity.”
According to several sources, the league is hoping to add team president, assistant head coach and both offensive and defensive coordinator to the list of positions that will require a minority candidate be interviewed. In addition, the league is hoping to restart its annual coaching and management symposium program to help train assistant coaches and staff members (both black and white) on the duties that go with head coach and general manager positions.
“The Rooney Rule has been a valuable tool in expanding diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, but there is more work to do, especially around increasing and strengthening the pipeline of diverse candidates for head coach and senior football executive positions,” Gulliver said. “We have already started the process of developing a plan for additional steps that will better ensure more diversity and inclusion on a regular basis in our hiring results. We look forward to discussing these steps with our advisers to ensure that our employment, development and equal opportunity programs are both robust and successful.”
The league’s stance comes in reaction to meetings with the members of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group that has helped push for the hiring of minority coaches over the past 15 years. John Wooten, the executive director of the organization, said Thursday night that he was “disappointed” with this year’s pattern, but hoped that it would lay the groundwork for expansion of the Rooney Rule and better training for future candidates.
“We can’t just put people in the positions without giving them the training to do the jobs or they will fail,” Wooten said. “Right now, we have a dearth of minority offensive coordinators and coaches who are in the pipeline to become offensive coordinators.”
Of 32 teams, only two had minority offensive coordinators this season. Buffalo had Curtis Modkins, who was fired along with the rest of the staff after the season. Baltimore ended the season with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator after the team fired Cam Cameron in December.
This became an issue this offseason because of teams’ emphasis on hiring head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Of the eight jobs that were open, seven were filled with offense-oriented coaches. Former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, hired by Jacksonville, was the only exception.
In addition to the head coaching hires, all six general manager jobs that have been filled so far were by white men. The New York Jets, still looking to fill their vacancy, reportedly are expected to hire Seattle executive John Idzik. Such a move would make it 15 for 15 of white men hired in jobs that come under the Rooney Rule.
Subsequently, the trend has left hard feelings among numerous African-American candidates. According to a source, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and New York Giants personnel man Marc Ross were particularly frustrated with not getting a chance for some of the jobs that were available. Horton was interviewed by the Cardinals and Cleveland; Ross was interviewed by Carolina and the Jets.
Wooten said he thinks the league will be receptive to all of the changes that his group is suggesting.
“We talked about an array of things we want to see all coaches work on, from running practices to play-calling to teaching,” said Wooten, who was frustrated that Caldwell and Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss did not get any interviews for head coaching jobs.o