NFL-League says teams must add ‘diverse person’ to offensive coaching staff, expands Rooney Rule

FILE PHOTO: The NFL logo is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City
FILE PHOTO: The NFL logo is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

March 29, 2022

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The National Football League (NFL) on Monday adopted several resolutions aimed at boosting diversity among coaching and front-office personnel, including a requirement to that each club hire a “diverse person” as offensive assistant coach.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has repeatedly pledged to improve diversity in the league, where roughly 70% of its players are Black but the head coaches are overwhelmingly white.

The new measures, adopted during the league’s annual meeting, include an expansion of the “Rooney Rule” to include female applicants and a requirement that all 32 teams employ a diverse person – defined as a female or member of an ethnic or racial minority – in a offensive assistant coach position.

“This person will receive a one-year contract and work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience,” the NFL said in a factsheet outlining the changes.

“We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career.”

The league provide reimbursement toward the coach’s salary for up to two years.

The NFL said that people of color comprised 39% of all coaching positions in the league in 2021, up from 35% in 2020 but noted, “while improvements have led to increased opportunities for minority candidates, the results are disappointing among head coaches and offensive coordinators.”

Last month, recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit accusing the NFL and its 32 teams of discriminating against Black candidates for coaching and management jobs.

Eight head coaching positions were filled this year, with Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith being the only candidates qualified as “diverse” to be hired. In 2021 just one of the league’s vacant head coaching positions went to a minority candidate, Robert Saleh.

The league also created a new, six-person advisory panel to review diversity policies amid long-standing criticism over a lack of diversity in coaching and front office personnel roles.

The NFL Diversity Advisory Committee will provide an “expert, external perspective” on issues ranging from club diversity, equity and inclusion, the league said.

“We’ve worked for years and made progress in many areas to ensure that staff and leaders in our office and at our clubs reflect the racial and gender make-up of America, but we have more work to do,” Goodell said in a statement.

“This esteemed group’s work will help us build a more inclusive league.”

The panel includes former Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith, ex-New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, former President and CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation Don Thompson plus other figures from the worlds of business and academia.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris and Kenneth Maxwell)