Jim Trotter of NFL Media reported that NFL ownership is voting on a resolution that would offer teams who fill head coaching and executive vacancies with minorities incentives on draft day. While the league may mean well, the implications are wide ranging and are already causing quite a disruption.
BREAKING: NFL owners will vote next week on a resolution that would improve a team's draft position if it hires a person of color as head coach or general manager, per sources. Currently there are only 2 black GMs & 4 HCs of color, matching 17-year low👇🏾 https://t.co/867umaUe4o
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) May 15, 2020
The proposed changes
- They would remove the longstanding anti-tampering barrier that permits clubs to block assistant coaches from interviewing for coordinator positions with other clubs. Even though having coordinator experience is typically the final and most significant step in becoming a head coach.
- Hiring a minority head coach would help the team move up six spots from where it is slotted to pick in the third round in the coach’s second season.
- It would jump 10 spots under the same scenario for hiring a person of color as its primary football executive, a position more commonly known as general manager.
- By filling both positions with diverse candidates in the same year, the club could jump 16 spots — six for the coach, 10 for the general manager — and potentially move from the top of the third round to the middle of the second round.
- A team’s fourth-round pick would climb five spots in the draft preceding the coach’s or general manager’s third year if he is still with the team.
The diversity issue
The NFL has a diversity issue. There are currently only three African-American general managers: Sashi Brown, Chris Grier and Ozzie Newsome along with three African-American head coaches and a single Hispanic one. Anthony Lynn, Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores and Ron Rivera make up an eighth of the total number of head coaches. Furthermore, there are only two African-American offensive coordinators: Eric Bieniemy (continues to be a head coaching snub) and Byron Leftwich, who has earned his way up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching ranks.
To make matters worse, there have only been four African-American coaches hired since 2017. One, Steve Wilks, was fired after his rookie season (with a non-competitive roster and a rookie quarterback). Vance Joseph, the other, was allowed two seasons before being fired. The significance being almost every head coach gets at minimum three years to get his players in, his system implemented, and achieve results.
Sports are meritocracies. If other teams were racist & not hiring the best coaches and GMs because of their race you could gain a competitive advantage & beat them by being not racist & hiring the best possible candidates.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 15, 2020
Clay Travis, is not wrong here. The thought of hiring a coach for improving mid round draft capital is crazy. What that does, is cast a permanent shadow over any minority head coach. It allows doubt to creep in about whether or not they were hired because they were best for the job, or a team trying to take advantage of the system.
I’m a fan of equal opportunity for all. But this isn’t equal opportunity, it is a handout. Nobody wants a job like this as a handout. https://t.co/G3e71DEu4D
— Phil Robinson III (@PhilRobinsonIII) May 15, 2020
What isn’t fair is the extreme amount of pressure this would put on a minority head coaching hire to win. Winning is already everything, and so is the drive to prove you belong. However, non-minority head coaches don’t have the stigma of only being there to improve draft positioning hanging over their heads.
The Hiring practices of minorities must improve and with urgency. It absolutely must get better but this is completely the wrong approach. Minority coaching and GM candidates deserve legitimate chances. This is a slap in the face to all the great minority candidates or any coach
— Sean Salisbury (@SeanUnfiltered) May 15, 2020
Bieniemy, is coming off his second season as an offensive coordinator for the most recent Super Bowl Champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. Bieniemy has come up through Andy Reid’s ranks and has been impressive with what he has put together with second year MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He’s had numerous interviews but still hasn’t been able to cement a head coaching job.
Longtime brilliant offensive minded Pep Hamilton has done everything he can and checked every box to oversee a franchise of his own. He has been the offensive coordinator in Cleveland and Indianapolis. He was the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at the University of Michigan he was the head coach for the now defunct XFL DC Defenders. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he guided his team to a 3-2 record.
Winston Moss was recently the the head coach for the Los Angeles Wildcats, and had a 2-3 record. Prior to his stint in the XFL, Moss was formerly an assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers for the last 13 years.
Moss’ departure from the Packers was over a dispute about quarterback Aaron Rodgers, along with the ousting of Mike McCarthy. Interestingly enough, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur drafted quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State in the first round instead of getting Rodgers more weapons. In a nutshell, LaFleur’s attempt to do exactly what Moss said needed to occur.
What the NFL is trying to accomplish is admirable. There are a plethora of minorities candidates capable of boosting league diversity. These men deserve an opportunity to showcase their abilities, but they don’t deserve to get it under the policy amendment propositions. Once we start down this path of incentivizing hiring processes, it’s uncertain where it will stop. It is a tricky slope to navigate, while hoping that it solves the issue, it will begin to generate others.
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Top Photo: Marcio José Sánchez/Associated Press