Even though no minority candidates were added during the NFL’s latest coaching and GM-hiring cycle, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said he still has faith in the Rooney Rule.
In fact, the league’s first minority general manager said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell would likely have had a chance at some jobs if they weren’t still playing.
To Newsome, that shows that people are still looking for qualified minority candidates, even if they’re not getting jobs.
“Is the opportunity there? Yes it is,” Newsome said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “You can look at the fact that I am the third of the GMs that have been there [Super Bowl]. [Cardinals general manager] Rod Graves had a chance to go with Arizona. [Giants general manager] Jerry Reese has been to two. We’ve had African-American coaches have the opportunity. I’ve had conversations among the diversity working group committee myself. Are we going work to get better?
“Yes, but all we can do is to put people in front of people. [Steelers coach] Mike Tomlin got in front of the Rooneys and got that job. I think that opportunity is there. I’d like for African Americans to get an opportunity, but John Harbaugh is a good football coach. Jim Harbaugh is a good football coach. And [Browns coach] Rob Chudzinski is a good football coach. So, they’re not making bad decisions. There’s just a good pool of candidates out there that people have to choose from.”
Newsome said he heard from several general managers at the Senior Bowl about Caldwell’s chances in the future.
“One of the nice things of being at the Senior Bowl is that I got the chance to be around a lot of the GMs,” Newsome said. “And I have had a couple of GMs tell me, ‘If it wasn’t for your guys’ success in the playoffs, that [Caldwell] would have been someone that we would have interviewed.’ Hopefully next year we’ll be in the same spot and it will be tough for him to get interviews again. But I can see him getting that opportunity a year from now.”
Setting aside the timing issue (if you’re interested enough in someone to think he might be your head coach, two weeks shouldn’t be a deterrent to a long-range plan), Caldwell’s late-season ascension to offensive coordinator in Baltimore helps the process.
The league went from no minority play-callers to two in the last two months (along with the Colts hiring Stanford’s Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator), and at a time when the pendulum is swinging toward head coaches with offensive backgrounds, any addition to the pool is a benefit to future candidates.