The National Football League has given up on the idea that a significant number of owners will hire a minority head coach and/or general manager. It might now resort to a true American business strategy – bribery.
In fairness, in business it's called an "incentive." Multi-billion-dollar corporations can afford to expand anywhere in the nation they want. But desperate communities offer "incentives" to these businesses with tax breaks, free real estate and other enticements.
After no black coaches were hired following the 2019 season, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL hierarchy decided that drastic action is needed to spur minority hiring in respective franchises' front offices.
The 32 owners on Tuesday tabled proposals that could lead to more minority hiring – or not.
If a team hires a black/minority head coach, its third-round draft choice would improve by six positions. Should a team hire a minority GM, a 10-spot improvement in the third round is the "incentive." Should the team hire both in the same year, its draft selection in the third round could improve a whopping 16 positions.
Being that unsuccessful teams are usually the ones seeking new coaches and GMs, the improvement in draft position could take some teams from the third round into the second. This would be a major carrot-on-a-stick for owners who shiver at the thought of a black man running their on-field operation.
Of the NFL's 32 owners, 24 would have to vote in favor of the proposals for passage. I didn't see that happening. While the proposals weren't rejected, they are now on hold. My guess is for at least a year.
Media critics of the proposals were already howling, and some conservative owners certainly tossed around terms like "quotas" and "affirmative action."
You can just imagine what many so-called NFL fans are saying. Here's one thought. "The NFL should mandate that every team should have at least one white cornerback on the roster."
Former Tampa Bay and Indianapolis head coach, Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, told ProFootballTalk that the measures could have unintended consequences.
“In my mind, this is drastic," Dungy said on Monday.
"I don't think personally it's the right thing to do, but I think it should spur some consideration and some communication and conversation and people say, 'OK, this might not be it, but maybe we can do that [instead].'
"I just have never been in favor of rewarding people for doing the right thing. And so I think there's going to be some unintended consequences. Yeah, we need to do something. I don't know if this is exactly it. We need to keep working until we find out what that best thing is to do."
Dungy said he has discussed the proposals with several black coaches who worry that it would undermine relationships with other (white) NFL coaches. He added that there are fears a minority coach could be hired solely to improve a draft selection spot – and then be fired sooner rather than later if instant success does not follow.
League owners did pass other resolutions that could help minority candidates.
Anti-tampering rules that forbid teams from interviewing coaches while their respective teams are still in the playoffs have been relaxed.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh were both candidates for head coaching positions when the 2019 regular season ended. However, both reached the Super Bowl and were unavailable to meet with team owners and GMs until all but one of the open jobs (Cleveland) was filled.
Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry is one of two black GMs in the NFL. The other is Chris Grier of the Miami Dolphins.
The NFL’s three black head coaches are Brian Flores in Miami, Anthony Lynn with the L.A. Chargers and Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh. Ron Rivera, a Latino, was hired by the Washington Redskins after his mid-season firing by the Carolina Panthers.
Other proposals that received votes include:
Teams will now be required to interview at least two candidates from outside their organization for any vacant head-coaching job and at least one minority candidate from outside their organization for any vacant offensive, defensive or special-teams coordinator job. Previously, a team did not have to interview a minority candidate for a GM job.
Teams and the league office are now required to interview "minorities and/or female applicants" for positions such as team president and "senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology and security positions."
All teams must establish a minority coaching fellowship program. The coaching fellowships are to be full-time positions, one or two years in length, to "provide NFL Legends, minority and female participants..."
Goodell said the draft pick compensation proposals "received a great deal of support."
"But there were also some suggestions, amendments and thoughts that we may want to go back and talk to others, including the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and try to strengthen it and try to make sure it does what we were originally intending, which is to reward teams and coaches for developing minority coaches that can go on to be head coaches in this league."
The Pollard Alliance "exists to champion diversity in the NFL through education and providing its membership with resources that will help them succeed at every level of the game," according to its mission statement.
Jarrett Bell, a black sportswriter who has covered the NFL for USA TODAY for decades, called the tabled proposals, "a Hail Mary."
"As creative of a proposal as it is, it's pretty much like a Hail Mary pass. Throw it up and see whether it strikes pay dirt," he wrote.
"I get it. Draft picks in the NFL can be as valued as the Holy Grail. I'm doubting that there are 24 team owners who will sign up for this latest plan to shake up the hiring process — when all that's really needed is a level playing field."
Since NFL owners refuse to do the right thing when it comes to minority hiring, Goodell and the NFL have decided they have to do something to change the status quo. If the draft pick proposals don't pass, it will be the owners that look bad, not the NFL.
In case you wondered, 70 percent of the players in the NFL are black, while about 9.4 percent of head coaches (3) and 6.2 percent of GMs (2) are too. You do the math.
The Reid Roundup
UCLA has hired Martin Jarmond as its athletic director, making him the first black person to hold that title in the 101-year history of the school… Andrew Berry, Browns GM, has hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as vice president of football operations. They have more than skin color in common. Both are Ivy League graduates. Berry is a Harvard grad and Adofo-Mensah holds degrees from Princeton and Stanford… Former Mizzou standout Aldon Smith, who has not appeared in an NFL game since 2015 because of multiple suspensions for violating the substance abuse and personal conduct policies, met with Commissioner Roger Goodell last week. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to a one-year deal… In a virtual commencement address for 2020 high school and college graduates, President Barack Obama said, "Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grownups, including some with fancy titles, important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up."... Coach Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan share their thoughts on playing for former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, a proven racist, in a newly released documentary entitled "Blackballed." Paul says his team nearly boycotted an NBA Playoff game in 2014 because of Sterling's racist comments… The lack of personal workouts with NFL teams was probably costly to several former HBCU football players. Lachavious Simmons of Tennessee State University was the lone HBCU player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. An offensive tackle, Simmons was picked in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears and 227th overall… Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid player in Major League Baseball history, is imploring the Players Association to compromise with owners (and take less pay) so there will be a 2020 MLB season... David West, a former honor student and AP Player of the Year as a center at Xavier, plans to launch the Professional Collegiate League during the summer of 2021. Salaries could range from $50,000 to $150,000 and PCL players can profit off their personal brands while still remaining eligible for their respective college teams. "We know that startup leagues are seemingly impossible, but you don’t know it’s going to fail until you try," said West. "To me, it's a challenge worth swinging at," he said… If you remember actor Tom Hanks in "Cast Away," you'll appreciate this: Wilson has replaced Spaulding as the official game ball of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and Basketball Africa League (BAL).
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna