The NFL on Tuesday announced new policies that will enhance diversity and increase equal opportunity and advancement for minorities and women across the league.
“We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL Owners’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL,” Pittsburgh Steelers owner and Chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee Art Rooney II said in a statement.
“The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations. We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country.”
The league made changes to the current anti-tampering policy, and it will now have a new system in place that prohibits a team from denying an assistant coach the opportunity to interview with a new team for a “bona fide” offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator or special teams coordinator position.
Also, a non-high-level or non-secondary football executive cannot be prohibited from interviewing for a “bona fide” assistant general manager job. If there is a dispute about whether a team is offering a “bona fide” position, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would make the decision. In either of these two cases, a contract cannot be negotiated or signed until after the conclusion of the employer club’s season.
All teams are expected to “submit in writing an organizational reporting structure for the coaching staff with job descriptions for any coach who is a coordinator or co-coordinator within that structure.”
“The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success,” Goodell said in a statement. “While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”
The NFL is also making changes to the Rooney Rule. According to an original report by the NFL Network, teams will be expected to interview at least two minority candidates not associated with their own team for a potential head coaching vacancy. Also, one minority candidate will need to be interviewed for coordinator positions, as well as high-ranking positions in the front office, including the general manager role.
The Rooney Rule, implemented in 2003, was created to address the lack of diversity on NFL coaching staffs and in the front office by requiring teams to interview minority candidates. When the rule went into effect, the intentions were positive; however, it hasn’t been as effective as the league would have liked. Five teams across the league selected new head coaches this offseason, and Ron Rivera, who was hired by the Washington Redskins, was the only minority to earn a job.
“Facts are, we have a broken system” Troy Vincent, the executive vice president of football operations for the NFL, told the NFL Network. “The fight continues.”