NFL’s new effort to create more diverse offensive coaching staff needs one important tweak
For the first time ever, the NFL added a specific hiring mandate to the Rooney Rule. Every team must hire a minority or female offensive assistant.
It’s somewhat surprising to think that, given the size of coaching staffs in today’s NFL, some teams don’t already have a minority or female offensive assistant. Obviously, however, the rule wouldn’t have been passed if the league didn’t deem it necessary.
There’s one aspect of this new rule that definitely isn’t necessary, and that could be detrimental. The coaches hired under this measure will be paid by a league-wide fund, and not paid directly by the teams.
If every team will be hiring a minority or female assistant coach under this mandate, why not just have the teams pay them directly? Having them paid by a separate fund stigmatizes them on the way through the door. And, surely, others will know who was hired by the team and who was hired, and paid, through this league-wide initiative that necessarily makes them different from the get-go.
That said, it’s smart to create opportunities or people to learn, to compete, to grow. As one coach recently explained it to PFT, it’s very difficult to find minority coaches who have worked directly with quarterbacks. At the college level, there are very few Black coaches who have groomed quarterbacks.
As the college coaches explain it when defending the lack of diversity on their own staffs, recruits want to be trained by someone with a track record of developing quarterbacks for NFL careers. That results, as the college coaches explain it, in more white coaches having those jobs.
That could be changing. As more and more Black quarterbacks get opportunities to play and grow in college and the NFL, more are developing the foundation to become quarterback coaches.
The NFL’s new program will force it to change even more. That’s generally very good. It would be even better if the teams simply paid these coaches directly, removing one quick and easy way for other coaches on the staff to regard the coach hired under this program as different from the rest.