Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome at Super Bowl 47.
By Charles Glover, Jr.
There are currently five minority head coaches in the National Football League (NFL): Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Lovie Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), Jim Caldwell (Detroit Lions), and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers). There are five minority general managers: Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Reggie McKenzie (Oakland Raiders), Martin Mayhew (Detroit Lions), Rick Smith (Houston Texans), and Jerry Reese (New York Giants). There are 32 NFL teams so there is clearly need for better minority representation at the coaching, coordinator, general manager and ownership levels . Extending the Rooney Rule to address this under-representation, seems to be the only solution to change the status quo.
Current NFL AP Coach of the Year Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers.
The Rooney Rule, named after the chairman of the NFL diversity committee and Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was instituted to give minority candidates more chances in positions of power. The NFL hiring pool for head coaching positions generally comes from current or recent NFL coordinators. As the Associated Press recently reported, “The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.”
Mike Tomlin has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl 43.
The challenge for minority candidates now is that most of they mainly come from the defensive side of the game. As the NFL continues to make rule changes to accentuate offense, defensive coaches are increasingly challenged to prove their worth in a league with continual rising scoring. This past season, NFL teams combined to score an average 23.4 points per game, the highest league average of all time. As offensive coaches continue to be rewarded, defensive coaches find themselves left behind and having to constantly prove themselves, which is odd, since strong defense typically wins games as the Seattle Seahawks convincingly demonstrated in Sunday’s Super Bowl blowout.
Newly hired Detroit Lions head coach, Jim Caldwell, was the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens last season.
The extension of the Rooney Rule to coordinator positions will allow for more diversity in coordinator positions on both offense and defense. Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports recently surmised, “offensive coordinators tend to get the call to be head coach, and the guys overseeing quarterbacks… tend to get [Offensive Coordinator] OC jobs.” Of the current minority head coaches, only Jim Caldwell has expertise on offense. His hiring this off-season was lauded as a positive step for minority candidates as the Lions were viewed as a desirable destination. Extending the Rooney Rule to coordinator positions will likely give more minority candidates a chance to show that their knowledge of offense is as strong as their accepted knowledge of defense. That should increase the ranks of minority coaches in the NFL, a change that is long overdue.–OnPointPress.net–
Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.