The NFL seems to realize the Rooney Rule is broken. Figuring how to fix it has proven to be a more difficult problem.
After the league went through an offseason that left as many minority coaches as the previous year (four), the NFL is trying to figure out a way to increase opportunities.
Even with many people talking about the issue, NFL executive vice president of football operations Tory Vincent said it’s still hard for minority candidates to get a fair chance at jobs.
“I just think awareness of candidates,” Vincent told the Associated Press. “Immediately I go to barriers of mobility. There’s a double standard, which sometimes is not discussed. We are examining now the coaching legacy and number of coaches who now coaching with sons and sons-in-law and brothers/siblings. Those become barriers to entry.
“We also have to look at, are there prohibitors in contracts where coaches being blocked due to language in their contracts? It is very difficult for men of color to progress. They are not even in the house, in the pool, because of barriers of mobility.”
Beyond that, the simple speed of searches seems to be limiting the field. By the time Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was finished coaching this year, all the jobs were filled, and the haste to fill jobs (and staffs of assistants) probably didn’t do him any favors.
“What I think has happened is people have said, ‘Let me interview a minority candidate to satisfy the rule, and then I can get on with this hiring process or hire who I want to,’ ” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said. “The whole point of the rule was to slow down the process, take your time, get the best candidate and make a decision. But there’s so much pressure now on all of them to do it quickly, get the ‘No. 1 candidate,’ put together a staff. Nobody wants to take their time. That is the major problem.”
With Ron Rivera moving from Carolina to Washington, the league still has just four minority head coaches (along with Anthony Lynn, Mike Tomlin, and Brian Flores) and two General Managers (Chris Grier and Andrew Berry). Vincent said it will take deliberate steps at the league level to fix that kind of imbalance.
“An intentional training, awareness, and communications plan should be implemented,” Vincent said. “In addition, we must encourage a safe nonjudgmental educational environment that seeks to provide a clear understanding of the ‘why’ behind hiring biases. These things coupled with football and [executive] suite personnel operating under the notion that diversity is good for business, will ultimately provide an opportunity to build the business case for diversity in hiring.
“We must truly examine short term, intermediate, and we’ve got to have some long-term goals for our business to thrive. Diversity is good business, inclusion is a choice.”
And at the moment, NFL owners are slow to make it.