While the NFL’s proposal to offer teams draft picks to help spur minority hiring might be a first step, but those who have worked within the league seem skeptical that it will actually achieve the desired result.
Veteran linebacker Sam Acho, who is a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, said during an interview on ESPN Radio that there’s a problem that a few spots of draft order won’t fix.
“The problem is, it can’t be about incentives,” Acho said. “It’s gotta be about giving the right coaches the right opportunities. The problem with the NFL is that there’s so much cronyism; it’s all about who you know. Oftentimes, NFL coaches aren’t the best coaches; they’re not. Oftentimes, people talk about the politics and the business of football; it’s about who you know, and no one wants to talk about it. . . .
“When you see really good coaches come about, you really get excited. That’s why, for me and a ton of players, you get happy when you get a coach that’s actually a good coach, not just a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy. That’s what happens — I got a buddy, gets in the door; and now all of a sudden, he becomes a position coach or a linebacker coach or a head coach or whatever — as opposed to giving the best possible candidates an opportunity. So do I think an incentive system is the way? No.”
The draft-pick proposal (which would bump a team’s third-round pick up six spots for a coach or 10 spots for a General Manager the year after they hire a minority) has gotten the most attention, but it could be part of a broader plan to change the way the league approaches minority hiring.
At the moment, there are four minority head coaches (Mike Tomlin, Ron Rivera, Anthony Lynn, and Brian Flores) and two minority General Managers (Chris Grier and Andrew Berry).
Acho said seeing the 2020 NFL Draft conducted virtually exposed that disparity.
“It’s like one of America’s best-kept secrets — no one knows who’s in charge, especially in corporate America,” Acho said. “But because of COVID, we got an inside look to who’s in charge. And I think it just opened some people’s eyes into a bigger problem that’s going on in our country, which is a lack of diversity, especially in positions of power.”
The league is expected to consider the proposal during this week’s virtual meetings.