NFL makes changes to Rooney Rule, but tables draft pick incentives for teams hiring minority coaches

The NFL announced changes to the Rooney Rule on Tuesday, but one of the more controversial aspects of that rule did not get approved. While NFL teams will be required to interview more minority candidates for jobs, draft-pick incentives won’t be tied to those hirings.

Team owners tabled that measure. If approved, it would have rewarded franchises that hired minority coaches with higher draft picks.

The proposal drew criticism from some, including Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and Hall of Famer Tony Dungy.

Tabling that portion of the Rooney Rule doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead. As’s Judy Battista pointed out, tabling a proposal usually means it will be tweaked.

It’s possible a similar measure gets brought to the table in the future.

What changes were made to the Rooney Rule?

Under the new rule, teams will be required to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching jobs. Under the previous version of the rule, teams were required to interview only one minority candidate.

In addition to that, teams will be required to interview one external minority candidate for coordinator, general manager and senior football operations positions.

Executive positions will also be subject to the Rooney Rule. Teams must interview a minority candidate or a woman for certain front-office positions, according to the NFL’s release.

“For the first time the Rooney Rule will also apply to a wide range of executive positions. Clubs must now include minorities and/or female applicants in the interview processes for senior level front office positions such as club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions. The league office will also adhere to these requirements.”

It was reported Monday night that the league would approve those changes to the Rooney Rule.

A proposal to incentivize teams to hire minorities by giving them higher draft picks has been tabled. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A proposal to incentivize teams to hire minorities by giving them higher draft picks has been tabled. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

How will new Rooney Rule impact NFL teams?

It’s unclear whether more minority candidates will be hired as a result of the Rooney Rule changes. More minority candidates will be interviewed, but that doesn’t mean teams will hire them. A few NFL teams already skirt around the rule using that approach, and there’s nothing to stop them from continuing to do that.

Given the league’s willingness to make changes, it’s possible the NFL cracks down harder on teams that engage in that behavior, though that is also unclear.

We won’t know the true impact of the Rooney Rule changes until we see teams start to make hires. If the new changes are not enough, the NFL may consider reintroducing a revamped version of the draft-pick incentive to increase diversity around the league.

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