Earlier this year, the National Football League toyed with the idea of an affirmative action plan that would improve the draft lot of teams hiring minority coaches and executives. On Tuesday, a modified version of that nutty plan became reality, drawing varied reactions from the sports media.
USA Today writer Jarrett Bell explained that, under 2020 Resolution JC-2A, any NFL team with a minority assistant coach who leaves the team to become the head coach of another team or that loses a personnel executive who becomes a general manager for another team will receive third-round compensatory picks in each of the next two drafts. Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy (seen in photo), is widely regarded as an African American destined for a head coaching position.
If a team loses two such minority people in the same situation, it will receive three third-round picks. The plan still needs the approval of the NFL Players Association.
A similar plan discussed last May was “roundly criticized from all corners of the game because it appeared to be an affirmative action program, and because of the unlikelihood it would effect positive change in a league that enters the upcoming season with only four head coaches of color and two black general managers,” said Jason Reid of The Undefeated. Reid said that plan did not go far enough to fight racism.
The NFL has been roundly criticized for a scarcity of African American head coaches in a league with mostly Black players.
The league policy on “Equal Employment and Workplace Diversity” now includes Measure 2020 Resolution JC-2A, which differed from a previous plan owners considered last spring that would have provided incentives for teams hiring minority candidates. This measure instead rewarded teams losing minority coaches to other teams.
The man who led the diversity committee to draft this affirmative action plan, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, doesn’t even have confidence that this new measure will change anything. “I don’t look at this as a silver bullet,” Rooney said. “This is just one more piece of the puzzle, one in a number of steps.”
A Yahoo sports writer, Shalise Manza Young, said of the NFL measure, “It just kind of feels like putting lipstick on a pig.” Young said people who toil in the NFL are proud and don’t want to be perceived as being the recipient of something they didn’t earn, but then offered an equally bad suggestion: “When a team gets to its three finalists (for head coach or GM), if one of them isn’t non-white they have to scrap the search and start over. It’s a method used more and more often in academia and the corporate world.”
Clay Travis, of Outkick, said teams should hire people based on merit, and he questions why a team would hire a rival’s assistant coach only to see that team reap the reward of extra draft picks.