By Tiyana Jordan
- Among the 32 NFL head coaching positions there is only 1 Black head coach
- The NFL made about $9.8B in national revenue, with 32 teams receiving a record $309M each during 2021
Are you still grappling with the notion of the NFL’s Rooney Rule and their diversity hiring requirements? Because I am. With Black or African Americans in head coaching positions dropping to 9.4% in 2019 from 22% in 2018, according to the Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s 2021 racial and gender report card, it’s taking staff like former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores to buck the system in efforts to establish equity and access to coveted leadership positions. In a league that made about $9.8 billion in national revenue, with 32 teams receiving a record $309 million each during 2021, what is it going to take to move the diversity needle?
Why This Matters: Let’s not get distracted, let’s stay in the game, and here is the play. The Rooney Rule was established by the NFL in 2003 to support the underrepresentation of Black coaches in a league where more than 70% of the players are of color, but lack higher level coaching staff. With the Rooney Rule in place each team is required to interview at least one minority coaching candidate, albeit, without the requirement to hire. Implementing such a requirement without oversight or intentionality to support the real issue at hand seems to be creating less change and more challenges.
Granted the Super Bowl aired three weekends ago and the cultural representation was on center stage, which seems to be very intentional and purposeful. Painting “end racism” on the sidelines is not exactly putting the vision into practice from an effective DEI strategy stance. Neither is implementing a hiring rule that is not helping to increase the minority candidate pool in the NFL, by doing what it was put in place to do, actually hiring diverse candidates.
What’s Next: Progress is kind of happening, if you accept that Brian Flores was recently hired as the Senior Defensive/Linebacker coach is enough. According to the NFL Football Operations, “the policy promotes diverse leadership among NFL clubs to ensure that promising candidates have the opportunity to prove they have the necessary skills and qualifications to excel.” Thank you NFL for “promoting” diversity, but there needs to be proper implementation to raise hiring standards and get more diverse staff on the roster. The 2022-2023 NFL season kicks off on September 8.
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Tiyana Jordan is an author/writer and business owner who enjoys reading feature stories on trailblazing minorities and writing about