After last month’s draft laid bare the NFL’s lack of diversity among its general managers and head coaches, the league has attempted to attack the problem on two fronts, with varying degree of success.
Most recently, the NFL announced that all 32 clubs will establish 1-to-2 year fellowships geared toward helping former players, minorities and women get their feet in the door to establish NFL careers and, the hope is, down the road the men and women in those jobs will grow into coordinator, head coach and general manager candidates.
But the NFL’s attempt to attack the problem at its head was not well received. The proposal would have incentivized teams to hire minority coordinators, head coaches and GMs by boosting their Day 2 draft position in the years immediately following their hiring.
— Teams that hire a minority head coach will move up six spots in the third round of the draft preceding the coach’s second season.
— A team hiring a minority general manger would move up 10 spots in the third round heading into the GM’s second season.
— A team that hired a minority head coach and GM in the same off-season would move up 16 spots, possibly from the middle of the third round to the beginning of the second.
— A team would move up five spots in the fourth round of a minority head coach or GM’s third draft.
The proposal was tabled before it ever came to a vote, and comments from Marvin Lewis could help keep the draft picks-for-minority hires idea under the table permanently.
“It was offensive, definitely offensive,” Marvin Lewis told the Baltimore Sun. “It was like having Jim Crow laws.”
Lewis spent 11 years as an NFL assistant before a 16-season run as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, which ended in 2018. He is now the defensive coordinator at Arizona State under head coach Herm Edwards.
While generally supportive of initiatives that guarantee interviews for minority candidates, Lewis drew the line at outright rewarding NFL teams for hiring minority candidates, arguing it would brand those hires as otherwise undeserving.
“Draft picks are like gold,” Lewis said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As a head coach, no one wants to be hired or put in that position.”