The NFL has proposed an expansion to the Rooney Rule that transforms it from requiring minority candidates to be interviewed for head-coaching and G.M. positions to rewarding them for hiring minority candidates.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, one of four minority head coaches currently in the NFL, shared his thoughts on the proposal during a Friday appearance on CBS Sports Radio with Zach Gelb.
“I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing,” Lynn said.
Many would agree with Lynn. This new effort to promote diversity in NFL hiring practices arguably goes too far, incentivizing decisions based on race by offering enhanced draft position to teams that hire minority candidates.
“I think that there are a lot of qualified African-American coaches that could be a head coach in this league, and I just pray that we do our due diligence and give these guys an opportunity,” Lynn said. “There are some qualified applicants and they need an opportunity, and I think this is — out of desperation this is something that has been thrown out there.”
Part of the problem is the lack of minority owners, and the unwillingness of non-minority owners to take the time to get comfortable with the prospect of hiring someone with whom they may not immediately find a natural connection.
“Sometimes we hire people that we have something in common with, or someone that looks like us,” Lynn said. “Someone that came from the same background as I did, you’re more comfortable doing that.”
Lynn also suggested that the league should expand from the presumption that offensive and defensive coordinators are the natural candidates to receive a promotion to head-coaching positions, arguing that non-coordinator assistants (including assistant head coaches) should get greater consideration.
“There are a lot of brilliant guys that can call plays but can’t lead a damn team,” Lynn said.
Every owner wants to find the best possible leader for the owner’s team. But it’s not as easy as finding the best players. The leadership quality is far less tangible, and it usually takes at least a full season or longer to decide whether the coach truly can “lead a damn team.”
Throw in the fact that dysfunctional teams tend to do dysfunctional things, and it’s really no surprise that plenty of franchises careen around aimlessly trying to find the right coach, constantly swinging and missing and swinging and missing and keeping the wrong guy too long and not giving perhaps the right guy enough time and generally creating a revolving door that prevents the team from ever establishing the kind of continuity that leads to consistent contention.