On Tuesday, NFL owners will consider multiple changes to the Rooney Rule, which promotes diversity in major NFL hiring decisions. Although regression in the hiring of minority coaches and General Managers already was pushing the league in that direction, one specific consequence of the pandemic helped crystallize the need for change.
“I think the biggest thing was the actual broadcast of the draft,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said in an appearance on Monday’s #PFTPM podcast. “I think when people saw that and you saw the decision makers and their families just one after another after another, the draftees and their families, just that contrast. I think it gave a visual picture to what everyone was seeing.”
The proposed changes include non-controversial measures that don’t require a vote (such as doubling the number of minority head-coaching interviews from one to two) to the most controversial — elevated draft standing for hiring a minority coach or General Manager. Coach Dungy explained during his #PFTPM appearance the problems with that approach, and we ultimately agreed that the best move at this point, with hiring season months away, would be to table the proposal for further discussion.
“I don’t think personally it’s the right thing to do,” Dungy said, “but I think it should spur some, really, consideration and some communication and conversation and people say, ‘OK, this might not be it, but maybe we can do that [instead].'”
The NFL has more than seven months to have those discussions and to come up with a better alternative. If someone like Coach Dungy is opposed to the proposed draft-pick enhancement, it probably makes sense to press pause and to continue the search for the right way to address a problem that the league finally seems to be intent on solving.