Diversity advocate John Wooten encouraged by this week’s progress

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John Wooten helped write the Rooney Rule 17 years ago, and some recent offseasons were tough for him to watch.

This week, however, Wooten saw progress.

The former head of the Frtiz Pollard Alliance told Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was encouraged with the expansion of the Rooney Rule passed this week.

“I had to smile,” he said. “These are things we’ve been asking for for years. . . .

“At all levels, there are minorities ready to kick down the doors in the NFL. Presidents, executive vice presidents, head coaches — all levels. You have to cast a wide net.”

Specifically, he appreciated the new requirement that teams 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 rule to other executive position outside of the football operation, and removed team’s ability to block assistants from interviewing for coordinator jobs.

“I was happy to see when they made them interview an outsider, and now I’m glad they moved from one to two,” Wooten said. “You can’t just walk down the hall and say, ‘I interviewed the black guy down the hall.’ . . .

“For years, the league didn’t want to address the inequity at the coordinator level. Now they recognize the issue.”

Like many interested in diversifying the NFL, Wooten wasn’t a fan of the plan to reward teams for hiring minority coaches by improving their draft picks. However, he did like the aspect of the plan that would have given compensatory picks to teams that lost those coaches or General Managers. That plan was tabled this week.

“Rather than giving a reward to the team that’s receiving the new coach, give the reward to the team that developed them,” Wooten said.

Steps are being taken to increase the supply of minority coaches, particularly in the pipeline positions of quarterbacks coaches and offensive coordinator. And while he hasn’t always been thrilled with moves made (or not made), he acknowledged this week was a step forward.