California State University East Bay

NFL lacks diversity in management

January 15, 2015

There is no question that the NFL has become America’s pastime when it comes to sports in the United States. The four divisional playoff game dominated television over the weekend, claiming the most views of all programming on Saturday and Sunday.

However, I can’t help but notice that the number one sport in the country lacks people of color in coaching and management positions.

Take the final four teams as an example. The Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and New England Patriots all advanced to the division championship games this past weekend and will battle each other this weekend for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLIX. Each of the head coaches and general managers for these teams is white.

There are 32 teams in the NFL with four teams who currently have vacancies in their head coaching positions.

Of those 28 teams with head coaches, only five have head coaches of color and only six have a general manager of color.

These statistics are staggering when you consider the number of minority players in the league: Last season there were 2,841 players active in the NFL, and 1,883 of those players were African-American. Yet only 19 percent of current head coaches and general managers are a race other than white.

It seems like teams trust black players to play for them, but not black coaches to coach or manage the organization. NFL team owners are even less diverse with only one minority owner, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Shahid Khan.

In 2003 the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule, named after the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chairman of its Diversity Committee Dan Rooney the rule required teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and upper level operations vacancies.

There are 96 coaching coordinator positions in the NFL and in 2013 minorities filled only 14 of those sports. In a league where more than two thirds of the players are African-American only 18 percent of all of the coaches in the league are minorities.

It is clear to me that the Rooney Rule needs to be revisited and tinkered with. While I don’t think a team should be forced to hire a person of color for a coaching or management position, something must be done to ensure that all candidates are seriously considered and not just interviewed because of a rule.

The four teams that currently have head coaching vacancies have only interviewed one minority for that position between them all and that seems to go directly against the essence of the rule.

The NFL needs to take a serious look at its hiring practices and open up more doors for players of color to coach and manage.

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