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NFL is requiring teams to hire women or minorities as coaches for 2022 season

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
David J. Phillip
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

The National Football League set forth new diversity and inclusion efforts for the 2022 season at its annual owners meeting, such as requiring its 32 teams to employ a "female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority" as an offensive assistant, the league said in a statement.

Candidates must have at least three years of collegiate or professional experience in coaching football. Those persons will receive a one-year contract with a salary and benefits, the organization announced

For the roles, the NFL will reimburse teams up to $200,000 in 2022 and $205,000 in 2023 from a league fund for coaches.

"In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds," the NFL said. "We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career, providing pipeline depth and furthering developing the diverse offensive pipeline."

According to league data, the percentage of people of color in coaching positions increased from 35% in 2020 to 39% in 2021.

During that time, the number of minority general managers increased from five to seven. The number of minority assistant general managers went from three to six, while the number of minority defensive coordinators went from 13 to 15.

"While the increases noted above is a positive step, our diversity numbers are stagnant in the head coach and special teams coordinator roles and have slightly declined in the offensive coordinator role," the league statement said.

The NFL also will now consider women for all qualifying roles under its Rooney Rule, an initiative established in 2003 in which at least two "external minorities" must be interviewed for head coaching positions, and one minority must be interviewed for a coordinator job.

Before, women could only satisfy the requirement for positions such as club president and senior executive.

NFL teams are currently submitting their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plans for the 2022 season. Some initiatives include "diverse recruiting," "DEI education and training," "hire head of DEI" and a "pay equity analysis," the league said.

The statement also said the league would highly regard the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds when evaluating prospective ownership groups.

"While we have made important progress, we have more work ahead of us to ensure we are approaching DEI holistically — including the need to evaluate and adjust policies, incentives, and additional requirements to ensure effectiveness and result in better outcomes for women and people of color."

According to the statement, senior level coaching hires were less diverse, while league office jobs were held by 25% women and 20% people of color, the highest percentage yet.

There are seven Black general managers in the league and 12 women had coaching positions during the 2021 football season.

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Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]