On Friday, the NFL admitted disappointment regarding the failure of any teams to hire minority candidates for any of the eight head-coaching and seven G.M.-level jobs.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is curious to hear more from the league, and from the NFL Coaches Association.
“It is appropriate given that we are coming up on the weekend of Martin Luther King’s remembrance to know and recognize that we still have work to do on the issue of increasing the diversity in the National Football League among the head coaches,” Smith said, via an extension of the NFLPA’s official website. “I saw the league’s statement [Friday] about how they were disappointed or that they felt the results of the head coaching hires were somewhat unexpected on the level of diversity. My first question is I would be interested in knowing what they expected.”
That’s a great question. What level of minority hiring would have transformed the NFL’s disappointment to satisfaction?
“I know the players of the National Football League expect a system that is fair,” Smith added. “The Rooney Rule was instituted with the idea of at least putting forth good quality coaches and mandating that those teams interview them. I know that as the days and months go by, especially heading into Super Bowl, we’re interested in hearing from the league what they intend to do to ensure that everyone is committed to hiring the best candidates and I am certainly interested in hearing from the Coaches Association on their thoughts. I would have expected something from them by now.”
The reference to the NFL Coaches Association wasn’t an accident. The two groups currently are involved in litigation, and there’s a contentious relationship between Smith and NFLCA executive director David Cornwell. If it appears that Smith was calling out Cornwell and the NFLCA, that interpretation would be accurate.
We’ve asked Cornwell for a comment on behalf of the NFLCA. But the Coaches Association may not be the right group to push the issue; there are only 32 head-coaching jobs and the various members of the NFLCA are, in theory, competing to acquire or keep those positions.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance has been advocating for coaching diversity, and on Friday executive director John Wooten expressed extreme disappointment regarding recent hiring trends.
Though some fans believe (zealously) that owners should be able to hire whoever they want to hire and that the Rooney Rule along with any other measures aimed at promoting diversity should be abandoned, the NFL, the NFLPA, and the Fritz Pollard Alliance agree that improvement is needed. The question moving forward is what can and should be done to get there.