Seeking to enhance employment and advancement opportunities for minorities and women in football, the NFL expanded the interview requirements set forth by the pre-existing Rooney Rule.
Established in 2003, the Rooney rule previously required teams to interview one minority candidate for head coaching and general manager positions. The expanded version now requires two external minority interviews for head coaching vacancies, one for any coordinator opening and one for any senior football operations or general manager position.
Senior positions include team president, as well as executive roles in communication, finance, human resources, legal, sales, sponsorship, information technology, and security. The league office will also adhere to these requirements.
"We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL Owners' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL," said Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, brother of Dan Rooney, who the rule is named after. "The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations. We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country."
To ensure there are fewer barriers to minority hirings, the NFL is also changing its anti-tampering policy regarding hires. Clubs will no longer be permitted to deny interview requests for assistant coaches and secondary members of the front office for coordinator and senior level front office promotions.
Additionally, comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion plans will be implemented with all 32 clubs and at the league office to include education, training, and universal data collection. An advisory panel, with input from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, will be convened to promote ideas to foster an inclusive culture of opportunity both on and off the field.
"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."
According to NFL.com reporter Jim Trotter, the league also considered offering draft compensation to teams that hired minority coaching or general manager candidates, but those proposals were tabled for the time being.
Currently, there are only two black general managers and four minority head coaches, following the hiring of Ron Rivera by Washington this offseason. And according to an end-of-the-year report by The Undefeated, 91 percent of offensive coordinator hires since 2009 have been white candidates. That's relevant since offensive coordinator is the most common path to a head coaching position.
Currently, the Detroit Lions coaching and strength staff employs eight minorities, plus two others, Leon Washington and Ty Warren, as members of the William Clay Ford Minority Coaching Assistantship program. All three of the team's coordinators, hired in the past 15 months, are white.