NFL says all teams must add minority offensive coach, expands Rooney rule to include women

PALM BEACH, Fla. — All 32 NFL teams will hire a minority offensive assistant coach for the 2022 season, part of a series of policy enhancements announced Monday to address the league’s ongoing diversity efforts.

The coach can be “a woman or a member of an ethnic or racial minority,” according to the policy adopted by the NFL owners at their annual meeting, and will be paid from a company-wide fund. the league. The coach must work closely with the head coach and offensive staff, with the goal of increasing minority participation in the offensive coaching pool that eventually produces the most sought-after candidates for coaching positions- chief.

“It’s an acknowledgment that right now when you look at the stepping stones for a head coach, it’s the coordinator positions,” said Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, chairman of the diversity committee. , Equity and Inclusion of the NFL. “We clearly have a trend where coaches come from the attacking side of the ball in recent years, and we clearly don’t have as many minorities in the attacking coordinator [job].”

Some teams already have a coach or coaches in similar assistant roles who will count toward the program, NFL chief administrative officer Dasha Smith said. But the requirement for all teams represents the first hiring mandate in the history of the Rooney Rule, named for Art Rooney’s father and designed to elevate minority hiring at all league levels.

There has been progress in some areas, including with general managers and defensive coordinators, but there are only five minority head coaches in the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell said in February the league “falls short” of its goals in the 2022 head coaching hiring cycle and pledged to double down on the offseason.

In addition to the offensive assistant coaching mandate, the league also has:

• Added women to the Rooney Rule language at all levels. It will now read that women and/or people of color may meet the requirement to interview two external minorities for leadership positions, including head coach. Women are not required to be interviewed, but they are now included in the enforcement process. It’s possible that a team could interview two white women for an open head coaching job to satisfy the Rooney Rule, and then make a hire without ever interviewing a person of color. But from a practical standpoint, Rooney said, that’s unlikely.

“The truth is that to this day, at least, there aren’t many women in the pool in terms of head coaching,” Rooney said. “We hope that will change over the years, but for that reason we haven’t seen that as inhibiting the number of interviews for racial minorities at this stage. Obviously we can work that out over time, but for now, we no longer saw that as a problem.

“Really, we’re probably looking at the early stages of women entering the coaching ranks, so maybe we’re a bit far before that becomes an issue.”

• Publication of a mission statement to encourage and attract diverse members of potential homeowner groups. The statement said in part: “Members will consider it a positive and significant factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant stake and involvement in the club, including as a majority owner of the club.”

The declaration does not require minority participation in ownership groups. The Denver Broncos will be the first test case. They are evaluating interested investors for their sales process. Rooney said he understood several of the groups had a minority stake.

• Announcement of a Diversity Advisory Committee, as part of Goodell’s commitment to bring in outside experts to assess the league’s diversity. Among its six members is former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith. It also includes former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey and Pamela Carlton, founder and president of Springboard.

Goodell had raised the possibility of scrapping the Rooney rule altogether and starting over, but Dasha Smith said she was still effective in several areas.

“It’s been very helpful to our diversity efforts overall,” she said. “While we haven’t seen the results we certainly want with the head coaching position, we have seen results this season that have shown progress, particularly in the defensive coordinator roles.”

A league record 15 minorities are among the NFL’s defensive coordinators for 2022, according to league data. Overall, minority coaches now make up 39% of the league total, up from 35% in 2021. There is also a league record 12 women in the coaching staff.