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Tipsheet

NFL Will Require Every Team to Hire Minority Offensive Coach for Upcoming Season

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The National Football League announced that each of the league's 32 teams must hire a female or racial minority offensive coach for the 2022 season as part of its diversity efforts. 

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The policy, which was adopted Monday by NFL owners during their annual meeting and will be paid for by a league-wide fund, states that the coach must work closely with a team's head coach and offensive staff. The new rule was introduced with the intention of increasing minority participation among offensive coaches. The most coveted candidates for head-coaching positions tend to be offensive coaches.

NFL chief administrative officer Dasha Smith told ESPN that teams that already have female or racial minority offensive coaches on their staff will not be required to make additional diversity hires.

"It's a recognition that at the moment, when you look at stepping stones for a head coach, they are the coordinator positions," Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the NFL Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, said during Monday's meeting. "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]."

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The newly adopted policy reflects a change to the Rooney Rule, which was named after Rooney II's father. The Rooney rule had mandated that teams interview racial minorities for head coaching and front office positions.

Now, women will be included as part of the Rooney rule. This means that teams can interview women or people of color to satisfy the team's requirement to interview minorities.

"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 II said, according to 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.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had previously flirted with the idea of eliminating the Rooney rule altogether and coming up with a brand new policy but the rule will remain in place.

"It has been very helpful to our diversity efforts overall," Smith said. "While we haven't seen the results we want to certainly with the head-coach position, we have this season seen results that showed progress, particularly in the defensive coordinator roles."

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There are currently 15 people of color on teams' staff as defensive coordinators for the 2022 season, league data shows, according to ESPN. Racial minority coaches now make up 38 percent of all coaches in the league, a 35 percent increase from 2021. There are also 12 women on NFL coaching staffs.

This comes amid Steelers senior defensive assistant coach Brian Flores's lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams – the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos – and two new plaintiffs will join the lawsuit, according to NBC Sports. Flores claims he was racially discriminated against in head coaching hiring and retention practices.

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