NFL’s “broken system” of minority hiring can be fixed in only two ways

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NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent admits that the league’s minority hiring system is broken. Ultimately, there are only two ways to truly fix it.

First, the NFL needs more minority owners. That’s far easier said than done, however.

For starters, teams rarely are available to be purchased. When they are, they’re ridiculously expensive, and they’re getting more expensive all the time. Only a small handful of people can afford a team. There are very few minorities with the ten-or-eleven-figure net worth needed to buy the minimum equity and write the checks necessary to make payroll and otherwise run the team.

Second, there’s a hard truth the NFL must face: One team needs to be sued for racial discrimination before the other teams will fully and completely realize the downside of failing to implement meaningful measures to promote diversity.

Litigation is society’s great equalizer. It’s why corporate interests promote candidates who will appoint judges who are more likely to tip the scale in favor of big business. It’s why Chambers of Commerce relentlessly attack jurisdictions that promote fair treatment of individuals who seek justice from those with money, power, and influence as “judicial hellholes.” It’s why more and more corporations obsess over forcing every potential dispute with an employee or customer away from a jury and into the hands of an arbitrator.

It was the threat of litigation, spearheaded by Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie Cochran, that prompted the NFL to adopt the Rooney Rule in 2002. And the Rooney Rule has helped the league avoid litigation for a full generation. Given the unique nature of the industry — 32 teams bound together by a league office — no one has been willing to trade his future NFL career by taking a stand in court against one of its teams.

That day could be coming, especially in light of the public candor that people like NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent are displaying. Consider these comments Vincent made to Peter King of Football Morning in America: “The facts are, we have a broken system . . . Do I take it personal? Yes I do. It’s my responsibility as a professional athlete, as a man of color, as someone who bleeds the National Football League, bleeds football, it’s part of our responsibility to continue what we believe is right for our game. . . . [S]itting in these meetings, listening, hearing people give different excuses, like: ‘This is not the right platform’or ‘Troy, Commissioner, I hear what you’re trying to do — not sure this is the right vehicle but we understand.’ Those are the same words that they told people in my community in the fifties, the forties, about integration of school systems, housing — but not giving us any solutions.”

Those are words that Mehri or some other lawyer would make the centerpiece of a closing argument, and that’s without Vincent being placed under oath and cross examined aggressively for even more damning admissions as to whether he believes the NFL hiring process are and have been infected for years by racial bias.

Plenty of businesses learn valuable lessons about proper practices and polices only after experiencing a lawsuit from inception to settlement or verdict. The current challenge for the NFL will be to anticipate what may be coming — especially with Vincent poised to be, consciously or not, the key witness for the plaintiff — and to act before suffering the financial and P.R. fallout of a judge and a jury finding that one or more teams have engaged in illegal discrimination on the basis of race.

Last week’s dalliance with a “diversity boost” in the form of enhancing draft status for teams that hire minority head coaches or General Managers suggests that someone, somewhere in the league understands that the time has come for drastic action. Although tying improved placement in the draft to hiring minority candidates goes too far, the clock is ticking loudly on the league and its teams to make meaningful changes that will both improve minority hiring and provide the kind of evidence that will push back against incriminating comments that keep piling up as the league office tries to get the 32 teams to fix the admittedly “broken system.”

The longer it takes for a fix to be made, the greater the chance that one or more teams will have to answer for the situation as defendants in a landmark case brought under federal or state civil rights laws.

56 responses to “NFL’s “broken system” of minority hiring can be fixed in only two ways

  1. Herman Edwards hit the nail on the head the other day. I don’t think anyone opposes black coaches having equal accessibility to positions in regards to their white counterparts. But the proposal to provide better positioning in the draft to teams that hired them was not only idiotic in itself but also an insult to those coaches who want to earn the position through deserved hard work and results & not some advantagist owner/GM wanting to bump up in the draft and then getting rid of them once that result is accomplished.

  2. First of all people should be hiring the person who THEY feel is the best fit for the job. They shouldn’t be FORCED to hire anyone based on that person’s ethnicity just because someone else feels it’s the right thing to do. Let’s stop trying to dictate how someone should or shouldn’t be running their business

  3. Jayz had partial ownership for a few years, ended up choosing Roc Nation Mgmt over it. I dont blame him. I mean there has to be a real reason why someone who is also so successful would want to invest into a team in today’s NFL.

    Herm Edwards was correct as mentioned above. There are plenty of coaches learning as we speak, the last time an article like this was written, I counted at least 15 people between the NFL and College ranks that were assistants/ coordinators that will without a doubt be given a shot in the near future.

    The big pictures comes down to not just a desire to coach and win, but to have the credibility and qualifications as well. This applies to any coach regardless of skin color or ethnic background. Robert Saleh is a guy I cant wait to see move on to HC.

  4. KoolAidFree says:
    May 25, 2020 at 11:40 am
    First of all people should be hiring the person who THEY feel is the best fit for the job. They shouldn’t be FORCED to hire anyone based on that person’s ethnicity just because someone else feels it’s the right thing to do. Let’s stop trying to dictate how someone should or shouldn’t be running their business

    —————————————
    While I agree with you, we have to accept the fact that the idea of society NOT dictating what we should and shouldnt do sailed well over 10-15 years ago in this country. Anyone who doesnt see this is either very young, or has their head in the sand.

  5. tyreehelmetcatch says:
    May 25, 2020 at 11:13 am
    Herman Edwards hit the nail on the head the other day.

    =======

    He also went to to (accurately) point out that earlier in the 2000’s there were a lot more African American head coaches due to the fact that more defensive minded coaches were being brought up in the Tampa 2 system at the time. It was a natural growth of all walks of life learning coaching at a time when defense was more prevalent in the league. Fast forward to today and it’s all offense all the time. Once Eric Bienemy gets a spot (and it’ll happen within the next year or two), maybe the natural growth will start to bloom. But a system that rewards race incentive hiring is exactly what Herm also said: a slap in the face to those who put in a lot of hard work to get to where they are.

  6. > Second, there’s a hard truth the NFL must face: One team needs to be sued
    > for racial discrimination before the other teams will fully and completely
    > realize the downside of failing to implement meaningful measures to promote diversity.

    Good luck winning that case. This isn’t some random company in the public sector. This is a private business where 64 in the entire world people hold the title of General Manager or Head Coach in the NFL, and hold sway of the daily and future plans of a billion dollar business. To prove discrimination, you would have to make a solid case that X minority was passed over for either title despite being more qualified than the guy they gave the job to – and that is just as difficult as predicting which players will thrive or bust coming out of the draft.

  7. KoolAidFree says:
    May 25, 2020 at 11:40 am
    First of all people should be hiring the person who THEY feel is the best fit for the job. They shouldn’t be FORCED to hire anyone based on that person’s ethnicity just because someone else feels it’s the right thing to do. Let’s stop trying to dictate how someone should or shouldn’t be running their business

    ——————-
    I see this argument all the time. But, no one is saying any team has to HIRE anyone in particular. They are just mandating that those who have frequently and historically not been given a chance at least have a chance to be considered for openings.

  8. I have a hard time believing that an owner, who stands to make 100s of millions of dollars by hiring a coach that has the best shot at creating a Patriots type dynasty cares what the color of skin the head coach has. Everybody knows winning brings fans, fans bring money!

  9. It could be that the league actually wants to get sued so that they can litigate this issue once and set a precedent.

  10. I cannot see things changing until the league forces head coaching hires onto a team. At the end of the day owners are going to hire whoever they feel gives them best chance at success regardless of the color of ones skin.

  11. The only way to fix it is to get rid of it. The Rooney Rule made sense back in the days, but this is not an issue in the NFL today, even black coaches don’t care for the rule. Just get the best man for the job, it can be a blue Avatar, if he can coach then hire that mofo.

  12. cjpom664 says:

    May 25, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Hey here’s an idea how about we leave identity politics out of sports?

     
    ********************
    It is 2020. Unfortunately everything is seen thru the lense of identity politics.

  13. Would love to see the NFL gang up and counter-sue such a frivolous lawsuit.

  14. Judging and giving opportunities to people soley because of their race is ALWAYS wrong. That type of backward thinking went out with 2016. Time to move on.

  15. Corvettekid,

    No such thing as reverse discrimination. It’s discrimination. Period.

  16. Minority ownership does not necessarily correlate to minority coaching opportunities.

    Here’s the fix: NFL needs to put its month where its mouth is.

    The NFL can incentivize minority hires by ponying up for, idk, the first two years of a minority coach’s contract with a particular franchise. Saves the owners money and doesn’t unfairly tip the balance of fairness. Some teams may only hire a minority coach on a two year prove it deal. If they work out, great. If not, you hire a different guy, no problem.

    The NFL doesn’t actually care. They want people to think they do so they avoid backlash.

  17. “The league’s minority hiring system is broken”.

    Maybe the hiring system is broken but just this statement speaks volumes. It’s a ‘hiring system’ not a “minority hiring system”.

    Or at least it should be.

  18. …I must be missing something because dont the Steelers,Chargers, Dolphins,Redskins have so called minority HCs….I look at teams W-L records , not their color.

  19. Instead of just looking at the end result and doubling the number of interviews teams have to do until they reach an acceptable quota of minority coaches, they need to figure out why the minorities that interviewed in the last 3-4 years didn’t get the job and determine what they can do to set them up to be more successful. Doubling the interviews treats the symptom, not the problem

  20. Interesting to see the responses on this topic over the weekend. People have had enough of this charade for the NFL it is insulting to ALL people and forgive me for raising the point but if you are that concerned about racial balance perhaps you should also be looking at Gender equality too. (No I am not serious but I raise it just to make my point).

  21. “Litigation is society’s great equalizer” No it isn’t Litigation is society’s biggest form of extortion. Let’s get the terms right and that is what are talking about here. If you say those words I will agree with you. The best way to get changes is extortion.

  22. There are enormous discriminatory roadblocks to hiring everywhere in this country. It’s not just in the NFL. Send in two equally qualified resumes for a job posting — one from a guy named Robert one from a guy named Kwame or Mustafa, who gets the interview? Women have been denied opportunity in Hollywood by the white cabel for decades. Only one Oscar EVER for a woman director? These days, seldom even any nominees, or job opportunities. Come on.

    “We’re not ready” has been heard for decades and decades about all kinds of situations where one group or another is denied a place at the table.

    Sometimes, all it takes is a good kick in the butt to get people ready.

    I got no problem taking all steps necessary to level this particular NFL playing field.

  23. We have mentors in schools or academies that develop quarterbacks…very early in their athletic career…we now see how quarterbacks…are more prepared to start in the NFL…than before these programs became as popular as they are now…How about a an academy or something along those lines…with mentors…to develop minority coaching prospects…to be ready to compete for coordinator or head coaching jobs…Isn’t an obstacle not so much a person’s racial background…as much as is the ability to do the job…when hired…not to ignore the real lack of minority coaches..but…having been developed to do the job…is a good argument to be hired…rather than just we are lacking minority coaches….

  24. I think a big misconception among those who don’t support rules to encourage minority hiring is that owners choose the coach they feel has the best chance of success.

    I’m sure that owners THINK they do that sometimes, but truthfully they often choose the coach they are most comfortable with, not the BEST. How else to explain some really bad head coaches that got multiple shots, like Norv Turner, Eric Mangini, Joe Bugel, Bruce Coslet, Richie Kotite…the list goes on.

    These rules are about dismantling that culture of relying on your old preconceptions based on familiarity. There really is a better choice out there for owners who are willing to take it instead of cuddling up with that security blanket.

  25. While I have a problem with the Rooney Rule simply based on if you know who want to hire you aren’t going to, or should have to interview anybody else. Like I think it was the Lions with Mooch, and even the Chiefs with Reid a few years ago.

    That being said you know there is an issue when both Freddie Kitchens and Joe Judge get hired before Eric Bienemy…I mean on. He’s helped Mahomes grow over the last couple years, was an actual player, and a above average one, and is under Reid who I think currently has just under half the coaches in the NFL from his coaching tree.

  26. so the league that blackballs Kaepernick is going to be the leader in diversity hiring. Can’t wait

  27. You need to explain point one. “First, the NFL needs more minority owners.”

    Are you saying that minority owners will hire minority coaches and GMs based on their ethnicity? Or only that they will be more open to it?

    Are you saying that current owners are basing hiring of GMs and coaches based on ethnicity? Or are they doing it based on who they know, meaning they don’t know many minorities?

    Your first point needs some clarification.

  28. If the owners truly hired who they deem as the best guy for the job: There wouldn’t be the constant turnover that the coaches face. They hire who they’re comfortable with. They make business decisions. And also, they may sign off on who gets hired. But they don’t select the candidates that meet them. The GMs do that. They’re the ones who hire or recommend who the owners should hire. That is where the cronyism and nepotism take place. The owners are like the President. They don’t review candidates. Nor do they search for coaching candidates. But they do hire team VPs and Presidents.

  29. The answer to perceived racism (Which is presumably that the skewing of racial minorities in head coach positions should be closer to the massive skew in the player population and not proportional to the general population?) is never ACTUAL racism (discriminating new hires based on their race).

  30. I think the entire thought process that there has to be a “system” for hiring any demographic is flawed. The solution is for people to stop worrying about what people are. Put aside the idea of discriminating either for or against anyone. And keep in mind any time you ask for one of those you are asking for both.

  31. Forcing owners to hire blacks would be reverse discrimination. I’ve always believed that talent wins out. If you are a talented black coach, you will get a head coaching job eventually. There is no need for forced regulations. Nobody is complaining that 70% of the players are black, because we know that they are talented enough to make the rosters even though they make up only 12-13% of the population. As Browns’ fans, we saw the downside of an owner trying to force a black head coach into the system. Hue Jackson was a disaster, the worse record in NFL history. So once again, let coaches (black or white) get jobs based on talent. Most NFL owners aren’t stupid enough to pass on a highly talented black coach who may take them to the Super Bowl some day. Enough with the regulations and “forced” interviews!

  32. The fins have the only GM-Coach as minorities. i like the draft picks idea as long as it’s retroactive……just saying

  33. cjpom664 says:
    May 25, 2020 at 1:31 pm
    Hey here’s an idea how about we leave identity politics out of sports?
    ————————–

    It’s always the majority and those in power who have that position to maintain their privilege.

  34. Censoring contrary opinions that are not presented in a rude or hateful way is not very American. That said…SJW’s who assume the NFL owners and management make personnel decisions based on race is wrong so we do not need special rules on minority hiring.

  35. fmwarner5 says:
    May 25, 2020 at 10:57 pm
    I’m sure that owners THINK they do that sometimes, but truthfully they often choose the coach they are most comfortable with, not the BEST. How else to explain some really bad head coaches that got multiple shots, like Norv Turner, Eric Mangini, Joe Bugel, Bruce Coslet, Richie Kotite…the list goes on.
    =============
    I notice you skipped Hugh Jackson, Ray Rhodes, Vance Joseph, Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Romeo Crennel, Jim Caldwell, Raheem Morris, Steve Wilkes… You get the point. There have been some bad hires (of white dudes), but there has also been plenty of bad hires on the other side as well, no? If EVERY black head coach was a massive success, and yet, teams continued to hire white coaches (who continue to fail), I could get behind the racism angle. But the truth is, the successes and failures are pretty equal regardless of skin color. Owners and GMs hire the person they feel best aligns with their vision, and gives them the best chance at success. Every year we see stories about a team hiring a new GM, and the GM being stuck with the coach that is still there. Because we all know the GM wants his guys on the coaching staff. Just as the coach wants his guys on the roster, etc. It all trickles down to a vision, and the person that best aligns with that vision. If an owner and GM decide their vision is to bring in a coach that will have a great defense, and a clock controlling offense that has a run heavy, smash mouth attack, who is going to get hired? The coach that wants to air it out and win games 45-42? Or the coach that wants to pound the ball and win games 14-10? What ever candidate comes in and says “I want to win games 14-10 with a ball controlling offense and a 85 Bears type smothering defense” is going to get hired. Who cares what his skin color is? Its all about the message. I think teams are making a major mistake if they hire a black coach for the wrong reasons. If your reason to hire a black coach is “I want to be woke”, you have already set him up for failure. You gotta hire the guy that fits your vision. Period.

  36. footballpat says:
    May 26, 2020 at 6:37 am
    cjpom664 says:
    May 25, 2020 at 1:31 pm
    Hey here’s an idea how about we leave identity politics out of sports?
    ————————–

    It’s always the majority and those in power who have that position to maintain their privilege.
    ==============================

    This is such an overused, tired argument at this point.

  37. Here’s my question: In what way is it broken? What’s the definition of “broken””?

    Should the % of black coaches equal the % of blacks in the general population? Or do they want it to equal the % of black players in the NFL? And either way, how close is it currently to either of those goals? And how did the Rooney Rule affect things?

    WHAT does “broken” MEAN??

  38. arkimedes says:
    May 25, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    I see this argument all the time. But, no one is saying any team has to HIRE anyone in particular. They are just mandating that those who have frequently and historically not been given a chance at least have a chance to be considered for openings.
    _________________________

    And what about all the white guys who fit into that category for one reason or another? Or Latinos or women? Why are we always focused solely on blacks?

  39. tyreehelmetcatch says:
    May 25, 2020 at 11:13 am
    Herman Edwards hit the nail on the head the other day. I don’t think anyone opposes black coaches having equal accessibility to positions in regards to their white counterparts. But the proposal to provide better positioning in the draft to teams that hired them was not only idiotic in itself but also an insult to those coaches who want to earn the position through deserved hard work and results & not some advantagist owner/GM wanting to bump up in the draft and then getting rid of them once that result is accomplished.
    ——
    And, yet you offer no solution. Scores of thumbs up for your comment…based entirely on maintaining the status quo. Sure Herm’s right, but until there is a black owner, nothing will change. Which, I’m guessing, most here are fine with.

  40. According to Forbes, there are 2,095 billionaires in the world. I’m not gonna go through the list but I’d wager at least half of them are worth between $1B -$1.5B which would still not be enough liquid cash to buy a team for $750M+

  41. stuvian says:
    May 26, 2020 at 1:25 am

    so the league that blackballs Kaepernick is going to be the leader in diversity hiring. Can’t wait
    _____________________

    You’re masking assumptions. The league doesn’t need to blackball Kaepernick. He destroyed himself all on his own.

  42. We all understand that you are a lawyer Mr.Florio,but your anti NFL owner stance is getting old.So what you are suggesting is that we have to have more minority owners who will only hire minority coaches?This will promote the split of races even more than it is now.Why don’t we eliminate the NFC and AFC conferences and have the white owners versus the black owners?Or would you prefer we decide this by coaches?QBs?Maybe we have two leagues so fans can support their racial group like baseball did way back in the day?
    Wouldn’t it be nice if we just give credit to people who worked hard and paid their dues regardless of race?This will never happen when we keep trying to subsidize this process.All it does is cheapen the accomplishments of the hired minority coaches no matter whether they deserved to be hired or not.

  43. You pick the best person for the job, regardless of the color of their skin.

    This “broken system” narrative is ridiculous.

  44. So a lawyer is suggesting the only way to fix a problem is to sue.

    When you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  45. Let’s say you made the top 2 candidates for a new job opening after an exhaustive interview process. Let’s say it is for a grocery store manager. But as part of the process, you are told if we hire the other candidate we get get discounted produce for the next year so we are going with her (see what I did there?). How is actual discrimination a solution to correct perceived discrimination? Talk about institutional racism …

  46. 4 minority hc’s out of 32 teams=12.5%
    minorities in population is 12-14%
    That is representative of the population. Why do they say the system is broken? What do they want as a percentage? Just because 70% of the players are minorities, why do we have to have a bigger percentage in coaching? Is that the standard?

  47. lks311 says:
    May 26, 2020 at 9:39 am
    tyreehelmetcatch says:
    May 25, 2020 at 11:13 am
    Herman Edwards hit the nail on the head the other day. I don’t think anyone opposes black coaches having equal accessibility to positions in regards to their white counterparts. But the proposal to provide better positioning in the draft to teams that hired them was not only idiotic in itself but also an insult to those coaches who want to earn the position through deserved hard work and results & not some advantagist owner/GM wanting to bump up in the draft and then getting rid of them once that result is accomplished.
    ——
    And, yet you offer no solution. Scores of thumbs up for your comment…based entirely on maintaining the status quo. Sure Herm’s right, but until there is a black owner, nothing will change. Which, I’m guessing, most here are fine with.

    —————————-
    Easy with that chip on your shoulder. Its pretty big.

    He is right though. The status quo is better than what was proposed.

  48. Let the owners pick who they want. It’s their money-right? They obviously choose the most qualified people for these jobs- right? For those of you that believe that is 100% correct, I say to you “Ignorance is bliss.” Not one of these owners made their money with Football! Not one. They all try to surround themselves with knowledgeable people to protect their (hobby business) venture. They have the final word but they are receiving input from those in their entourage on a consistent basis and these counselors usually look exactly like they do. (racially speaking) Those hired to counsel want to keep their jobs, seek promotions, advance their careers, etc. and will hire people who they feel most comfortable with to be their counselors: Coaches, GM’s, football operations exec’s etc. The only way this will change is through pressure. (Sad but proven true) Someone is going to have to martyr themselves a la Colin Kaepernick to scream Something is wrong! Then they will be ostracized just like Curt Flood and Colin Kaepernick. But…… pressure, judicial pressure will prevail . How much? Who knows. Certainly not a major improvement, but every little bit helps but somebody has to do a Rosa Parks. As Tony Dungy mentioned, it will be a lot easier to attempt to prove that the candidate chosen was not better qualified than the one rejected unless certain criteria are stipulated in writing beforehand. This will be a long and tedious process and in this humble commentator’s opinion, there will not be enough time! Other priorities will take precedence in our lives. Pandemic, financial chaos etc. anyone? So let’s just enjoy the football we have left!

  49. notaloon says:
    May 26, 2020 at 12:23 pm
    4 minority hc’s out of 32 teams=12.5%
    minorities in population is 12-14%
    That is representative of the population. Why do they say the system is broken? What do they want as a percentage? Just because 70% of the players are minorities, why do we have to have a bigger percentage in coaching? Is that the standard?
    ==========================

    minority owned NFL teams = 0% !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    percent of blacks in the NFL = approx. 90% !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    percent of white owners = 100% !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The system is broken. And if some feel the way Koolaidfreebie feels, then all 90% of the NFL should strike…permanently to send a LOUD message that the all-white owners club is not representative of the players at all.

  50. There is a third way to fix it:

    Minority-owned expansion teams! San Antonio has like what, 1.5 million people? And what is the largest city in Ohio? Not Cleveland or Cincinnati. Columbus is.

    That’s two expansion teams right there.

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