The NFL and its owners will consider an expansion of the Rooney Rule that, among other things, would give teams that hire a minority coach or a minority G.M. a boost in the draft a year after the hire is made. Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy addressed the proposal during a Monday edition of the #PFTPM podcast.
Coach Dungy, who has been involved directly in efforts to enhance diversity in NFL coaching, does not support the proposal.
“In my mind, this is drastic,” Dungy said. “I don’t think personally it’s the right thing to do, but I think it should spur some, really, consideration and some communication and conversation and people say, ‘OK, this might not be it, but maybe we can do that [instead].’”
Dungy supports the portion of the proposal that would allow minority coaches to leave one team to accept a promotion with another team, explaining that this will address concerns regarding the supply of qualified minority coaches. However, he draws the line at giving teams a reward for hiring a minority coach or G.M.
“I just have never been in favor of rewarding people for doing the right thing,” Dungy said. “And so I think there’s going to be some unintended consequences. To me it’s almost like the pass interference rule. 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 isn’t speaking only for himself. He said that he has spoken to several African-American coaches in the NFL in order to understand their concerns regarding the proposal.
“There’s three things that they’re worried about,” Dungy said. “Number one, how does this put me in my relationship with the other coaches that I work with, and other white coaches? Are they thinking I’m getting an advantage now? Number two, when that General Manager or owner hires me, is he hiring me because he thinks I’m the best person, or is he hiring me to move his draft choice up a little bit? And then the third thing this is nobody feels like they want anything special . . . . Don’t hire me and then say I’m going to give you more draft choices later on because you need help. And I know that’s not the reason why the proposal is being put in, I know that’s not what they’re driving at, but that’s still the end result. And so there’s still some things the league needs to think about, about this proposal.”
Dungy sees the proposal the same way that many others do: As an effort to move away from imposing discipline on those who fail to adhere to the rules regarding interviewing minority candidates and to give a tangible benefit to those who actually hire minority candidates.
“I think the league is looking and saying, ‘Hey, punitive things haven’t worked. Let’s look at incentives.’ And maybe that’s the right way to go. But I don’t know if this is the right incentive,” Dungy said.
It remains to be seen whether the opposition to the proposal keeps at least 24 owners from voting for it. Of all the voices that have chimed in, however, Dungy’s should be regarded as the most influential.
“When I looked at it, I didn’t see how it would pass,” Dungy said. “A lot of people are telling me that it will. I think if it does pass, it’ll end up being like the pass interference review rule. We’ll see in a little while some unintended consequences that we’ll say, ‘Gosh, this may not be the best idea.’”
So maybe the best idea is to talk it through and table it, while searching for an alternative that doesn’t raise the concerns spelled out by Coach Dungy and others. The next hiring cycle doesn’t begin for months; there’s no reason to adopt a proposal like this now, in light of these concerns.