During the 2022 season, the NFL will mandate that each of the 32 teams employee a “female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority” on their coaching staff.
The league announced teams must hire this individual as an offensive assistant, and the candidate must have a minimum of three years of collegiate or professional coaching experience, and will have “regular and direct contact with the head coach,” as well as the other offensive coaches.
This resolution from the NFL is for a new position, meaning that to satisfy the requirement, teams will need to employ a female or minority candidate as an offensive assistant, regardless if the team already has a coach who satisfies those requirements elsewhere on their staff.
“In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds. We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career, providing pipeline depth and further developing the diverse offensive pipeline,” the new resolution from the NFL says, according to screenshots from United Press International sports reporter Al Butler.
The NFL said it will pay up to half of the employee’s salary if the offensive assistant satisfies the requirements laid out by the league; the team will cover the remaining salary.
The news comes as the NFL announced it is putting together a committee to analyze its diversity hiring practices among the league and its teams.
In 2003, the NFL introduced the “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to conduct at least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for all head-coaching vacancies. Now the NFL appears to be taking a more serious step in mandating more diverse hiring practices.
It is worth noting that the Rooney Rule only applies to minority candidates, while this new resolution from the NFL will apply to both minority and female candidates.
In 2016, Kathryn Smith became the first woman to become a full-time NFL coach when the Buffalo Bills hired her to be its special teams quality-control coach; by 2021, 12 women had coaching jobs in the NFL.
Many have criticized the Rooney Rule for producing poor results over the years, as only two current NFL head coaches are Black — there were five minority coaches in the NFL last year: Ron Rivera, Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, David Culler and Robert Saleh. Over 60% of the NFL players in 2021 identified as non-white, according to Statista.
“However, well-intentioned or not, what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working,” a legal complaint from current Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant Brian Flores reads. Flores was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins earlier this year and is suing the NFL and three football teams alleging racial discrimination.
NFL teams will be required to implement this new offensive assistant coach prior to the 2022 season.