Troy Vincent: Minority candidates face “barriers of mobility”

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The NFL seems to realize the Rooney Rule is broken. Figuring how to fix it has proven to be a more difficult problem.

After the league went through an offseason that left as many minority coaches as the previous year (four), the NFL is trying to figure out a way to increase opportunities.

Even with many people talking about the issue, NFL executive vice president of football operations Tory Vincent said it’s still hard for minority candidates to get a fair chance at jobs.

“I just think awareness of candidates,” Vincent told the Associated Press. “Immediately I go to barriers of mobility. There’s a double standard, which sometimes is not discussed. We are examining now the coaching legacy and number of coaches who now coaching with sons and sons-in-law and brothers/siblings. Those become barriers to entry.

“We also have to look at, are there prohibitors in contracts where coaches being blocked due to language in their contracts? It is very difficult for men of color to progress. They are not even in the house, in the pool, because of barriers of mobility.”

Beyond that, the simple speed of searches seems to be limiting the field. By the time Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was finished coaching this year, all the jobs were filled, and the haste to fill jobs (and staffs of assistants) probably didn’t do him any favors.

“What I think has happened is people have said, ‘Let me interview a minority candidate to satisfy the rule, and then I can get on with this hiring process or hire who I want to,’ ” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said. “The whole point of the rule was to slow down the process, take your time, get the best candidate and make a decision. But there’s so much pressure now on all of them to do it quickly, get the ‘No. 1 candidate,’ put together a staff. Nobody wants to take their time. That is the major problem.”

With Ron Rivera moving from Carolina to Washington, the league still has just four minority head coaches (along with Anthony Lynn, Mike Tomlin, and Brian Flores) and two General Managers (Chris Grier and Andrew Berry). Vincent said it will take deliberate steps at the league level to fix that kind of imbalance.

“An intentional training, awareness, and communications plan should be implemented,” Vincent said. “In addition, we must encourage a safe nonjudgmental educational environment that seeks to provide a clear understanding of the ‘why’ behind hiring biases. These things coupled with football and [executive] suite personnel operating under the notion that diversity is good for business, will ultimately provide an opportunity to build the business case for diversity in hiring.

“We must truly examine short term, intermediate, and we’ve got to have some long-term goals for our business to thrive. Diversity is good business, inclusion is a choice.”

And at the moment, NFL owners are slow to make it.

8 responses to “Troy Vincent: Minority candidates face “barriers of mobility”

  1. The most common path to a NFL head coaching job is to serve as a coordinator first. Between Rivera, Tomlin, Flores and Lynn, they employ one non-white coordinator (Patrick Graham, DC in Miami.) Tomlin has been in Pittsburgh for 13 years and has never had a minority as a coordinator. I don’t say that as an indictment of him, but I think you have to ask if these coaches are being allowed to hire who they want on their staffs. If minority coaches aren’t getting many opportunities to be coordinators, then that leads to even less chances to be head coaches.

  2. Eric Bieniemy should be joining them soon. Owners hire to win, not fill a quota. If they think a man can lead their team to a super bowl I doubt they will give a crap what color he is.

  3. It would be easy,just change the rules to hiring a coach. making it so NO COACH CAN BE HIRED till 2 weeks after the superbowl.

  4. I think some of the things Vincent mentions affects everyone, not just coaches of color. Bieniemy wouldn’t be the first person to be denied a job because of the policy prohibiting teams from interviewing coaches still in the playoffs. He is right about the trend of just hiring another retread coach. However that has decreased over the past several years with several young coaches getting chances instead of the same old retreads. With the success some of them have had that should continue so I believe more guys like Bieniemy will their first head-coaching job.

  5. Vincent says: ‘understanding the “why” behind hiring biases. The only hiring biases that really exist are the ones to hire a coach deemed the most qualified and that’s still a crap-shoot. It seems the Rooney Rule has created a ” damned if you do and damned if you don’t” scenario for the owners. Vincent’s assessment is mostly a nonsensical progressive psycho-babble indictment of the white hierarchy in the NFL.

  6. bigdogsolec says: “It would be easy,just change the rules to hiring a coach. making it so NO COACH CAN BE HIRED till 2 weeks after the superbowl.”

    Never gonna happen.

    Your rule will HURT teams more. Only bad teams change head coaches – ie teams not making playoffs. They want to quickly move on, so that the new incoming coach has time to hire his staff, watch all 16 games and evaluate every player they want to keep, devise and implement the offensive and defensive playbooks, etc.

    Your rule to only allow hires after SB (ie mid Feb) puts these new HCs a month behind existing teams and still needing to do things a new HC has to do. You think Belichick was chilling around the pool after getting bounced out of the playoffs? Highly unlikely, as he was probably already preparing for next season that Monday morning – and you want new head coaches to be a month behind THAT?

  7. No team owner is going to hire a head coach to run their multibillion franchise so they can fill a quota. It’ll never happen. We’re not taking about a kid’s baseball team where everyone gets a chance. I understand Vincent’s points, but business owners want to hire the best candidate for the job to increase the value of their investment. It’s about winning, and the moment it becomes something else, you’ve already lost.

  8. There’s 32 teams in the NFL, minority males make up 7% of the population in the United States. That means that according to the demographics of the country that the NFL should have 2.24 head coaches in the NFL who are a minority. Seeing how there’s 3 currently in that role I would say that is right on point.

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