Last year, the NFL created an incentive for developing minority coaches and executives into head coach and General Managers. Regardless of whether the incentive helps or hurts (reasonable minds differ on this point), the rule awarding draft picks to teams who lose minority assistant coaches or executives to major jobs elsewhere necessarily applies to people already in the building.
There’s a separate challenge relating to getting minority employees in the building.
Those entry-level jobs often go to relatives or friends of the head coach or other executives with the team, including ownership. When nepotism doesn’t open doors, cronyism does — it’s not what you know but who you know continues to have significant relevance in NFL team facilities.
There’s another impediment. For those who earn a job in the lower levels of the coaching staff or the front office without being related to or knowing someone in power, they need to have another source of money to cover expenses like, you know, housing and food. The low-level jobs with NFL teams often don’t pay a living wage, using lack of pay and excess work hours as some sort of bizarre training ground for proving that the employee “loves” football.
Not many people can bust their asses at a low-wage job, however. They need some other source of revenue, which necessarily prevents potentially qualified candidates from pursuing a career in football.
Throw those three factors together, and that helps further explain the inability of minority candidates to rise to the highest levels of an NFL organization. In plenty of cases, the challenge arises from getting a foot in the door.