The NFL is holding their virtual league meeting on Tuesday and teams are set to vote on several different items. One item which was reported over the weekend was offering teams an incentive by increasing their draft position if they were to hire a minority candidate for either head coach or general manager. While the effectiveness and and legitimacy of such a change in policy was questioned by many, it is unclear if the proposal will get the support it needs in order to be implemented.
Although the proposal would be taking the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” to a whole new level, the league is also looking into expanding the original rule regardless of the vote towards the increase of draft capital. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL is looking to expand the number of minority candidates who must be interviewed for any vacant head-coaching position from one to two. Additionally, teams would also have to interview at least one minority candidate for any vacant coordinator position.
The NFL is immediately instituting changes to the Rooney Rule, requiring clubs interview at least 2 external minority candidates for head coach openings and 1 minority candidate for any coordinator job, I’m told. That's on top of two resolutions up for vote @JimTrotter_NFL noted.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 18, 2020
A further expansion of the Rooney Rule would also be in hiring front office staff. Currently the rule applies to general managers, but will reportedly be expanded to other team positions.
Teams must interview 1 external minority candidate for senior football ops/GM jobs, too. And clubs and the league office must now include minorities and/or female applicants for senior-level positions, including club president. All effective after virtual league meeting tomorrow.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 18, 2020
The effectiveness of the Rooney Rule has been called into question as of late as the number of minority head coaches has declined in past seasons. Although candidates still must be interviewed, the NFL was looking to add an incentive for actually making the hire. Just this offseason, several NFL franchises were questioned if the candidates who were interviewed in fulfillment of the Rooney Rule were actually done in good faith or if the team had already made a decision and simply brought in the candidate to “check the box.”
The heart of the Rooney rule was to give minorities an opportunity for advancement in the NFL they may have not had otherwise. By at least getting an interview, minority candidates could not be locked out of the process all together. Expanding the number of candidates who are interviewed will be quite interesting, but if it does not lead to more qualified minorities actually being hired it will just add more to the formality of the process.
Expanding to coordinators could become an interesting aspect of the rule as well. With some teams looking to advance coaches into coordinator positions who are already on staff (much like the Steelers with their most recent hires), more interviews done nearly as a formality is definitely a possibility. On the other hand, if teams are forced to hold outside interviews it could allow them to see something more than just the personnel with which they are already familiar.
If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for the Rooney Rule or an expansion of it. If the best candidates simply got the opportunity in all cases, it would not be an issue. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and that is why something like the Rooney Rule exists. Hopefully the NFL can adopt an expansion to make the rule more effective rather than create more problems.