Every NFL team is now required to hire one minority offensive assistant coach — the hire can be "a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority" — for the 2022 season, ESPN reported.
What are the details?
NFL owners made the move Monday during their annual Florida meeting and it's part of the league's diversity efforts, the sports network said.
Each coach will receive a one-year contract and “work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience," Sports Illustrated said, citing a statement obtained by United Press International. Teams will be reimbursed for the minority coaching hires through a league-wide fund that will contribute toward salaries for up to two years, the magazine added.
The long-term goal is increasing minorities among the pool of offensive coaches, as they end up being the most sought-after head coaching candidates, ESPN said, adding that current offensive assistant coaches will count for their teams toward the program.
"It's a recognition that at the moment, when you look at stepping stones for a head coach, they are the coordinator positions," Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II — who's chairman of the NFL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee — told the sports network. "We clearly have a trend where coaches are coming from the offensive side of the ball in recent years, and we clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator [job]."
ESPN, citing league data, said a record 15 minorities are among the NFL's defensive coordinators for 2022, and minority coaches now represent 39% of the league total, an increase from 35% in 2021. In addition, the sports network said there are a record 12 women on coaching staffs.
But there are only five minority head coaches in the league, ESPN said.
Women will be added to the requirements of the Rooney Rule, the sports network said. The Rule — established in 2003 and named after Art Rooney II's father — has mandated interviewing minorities for top coaching positions. The Rule now stipulates that at least two women and/or persons of color will be interviewed to fill vacant coaching spots.
"The truth of the matter is that, as of today at least, there aren't many women in the pool in terms of head coach," Rooney told ESPN. "We hope that is going to change over the years, but for that reason we didn't see it as inhibiting the number of interviews for racial minorities at this point in time. Obviously, we can address that as time goes on, but for now we didn't see that as an issue. Really, we are looking at probably the early stages of women entering the coaching ranks, so we may be a little ways away before that becomes a problem."