After a proposal was floated last week that the league was considering rewarding teams for minority hiring with draft position, the reaction was immediate.
And it wasn’t necessarily positive.
Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis had strong feelings about that proposal — which was tabled this week as the league expanded the scope of the Rooney Rule.
“It was offensive, definitely offensive,” Lewis said, via Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. “It was like having Jim Crow laws.”
That language is certainly stronger, but it’s not totally different in theme from Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who said he was concerned about the “unintended consequences” if such a plan had been enacted.
The league shelved that proposal, and instead expanded the Rooney Rule to require teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching jobs, at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator positions, and at least one external minority candidate for the senior football operations or General Manager jobs. The league also expanded the scope to other executive position outside of the football operation, and removed team’s ability to block assistants from interviewing for coordinator jobs.
It’s at least a sign of recognition of the problem, in a league with four minority head coaches and two minority G.M.s.
“We had come a long way as far as assistant coaches, but we never made any inroads in management,” Lewis said. “This will be a plus requiring more than one minority to be interviewed because it will cause them to take a deeper dive. This will allow more minorities more opportunities.”
Former Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome was more measured in his words, but chose to see this week’s moves as a positive.
“Am I concerned about the lack of hiring?” he said. “Yes, I am. But I fully understand there is a sincere effort to change the hiring process.”
As the league’s first minority G.M., Newsome’s seen the slow march of progress, and hopes that the latest steps are at least moving in the right direction.