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Opinion: NFL Owners Know the League Has a Diversity Problem and They Don't Care Hizmr
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    Opinion: NFL Owners Know the League Has a Diversity Problem and They Don't Care

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    The Last Outlaw
    The Last Outlaw
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    PostThe Last Outlaw Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:02 pm

    The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bethea's Byte

    From Nancy Armour to USA TODAY Sports

    The Rooney Rule will be useless until NFL owners acknowledge the real problem.

    Opinion: NFL Owners Know the League Has a Diversity Problem and They Don't Care $


    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials can compile all the lists they want, consult every diversity expert there is and even browbeat owners into interviewing minority coaching candidates. But until owners admit they’re uncomfortable with, or flat-out don’t want, men of color as the faces of their franchises, nothing is ever going to change.

    Of the four head coaches hired so far, only one, Washington’s Ron Rivera, is a minority. If the Cleveland Browns hire a white coach — five of their seven remaining candidates are white — it will be the third consecutive year that only one man of color has been hired as a head coach.

    Rivera does not actually boost the number of minority head coaches in the NFL, either. He coached the Carolina Panthers until being fired Dec. 3, meaning the 32-team league would once again have only four minority head coaches, just two of whom are black.

    “So many people have invested so much into the dream of diversity, and there’s been so much time and thought and attention brought to bear. Now it’s just left for leadership to either do it or be honest that they don’t want to do it,” Pamela Newkirk, author of Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business, told USA TODAY Sports.

    “It’s on whoever is leading these teams,” Newkirk added. “It’s a leadership problem. It’s a leadership issue. It’s not going to happen bottom up. It has to happen from the top.”

    The Rooney Rule, in place since 2003, was designed to increase opportunities for minorities in a league where more than two-thirds of the players are black. But after promising results initially — 14 minorities were hired as full-time head coaches between 2003 and 2011 — teams have done little more than pay lip service to the rule. While lesser-qualified white assistants get jobs and failed white coaches get second chances, men of color remain stuck on the sideline.

    Oh, maybe they get the token interview to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirement. But a legitimate look? Please.

    Before anyone squawks about hiring “the best person,” just stop. Do you really think new New York Giants coach Joe Judge, who was the special teams and wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots — in a year the Patriots’ receivers were widely agreed to be awful — is more capable than, say, Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who has overseen one of the NFL’s top offenses the past two years and been integral in the development of Patrick Mahomes?

    And while we’re talking about best people, how’s that working out in Detroit, where Jim Caldwell was canned after consecutive nine-win seasons and replaced by Matt Patricia, who has managed a total of nine wins in two seasons? Or Cincinnati, where Zac Taylor, whose main qualification seemed to be that he knew Sean McVay, presided over a two-win season?

    Meanwhile, Brian Flores, whose Miami Dolphins were built to tank, won five games — including a shocking upset of New England that relegated the Patriots to a wild-card

    “It’s often suggested that excellence and diversity are mutually exclusive. When we know you can have both, simultaneously,” Newkirk said.

    “Organizations can come up with a million reasons why they’re not achieving diversity (but) … they’ve shown they can do it when they want to,” she continued. “Now the only question is why? Why won’t they do it? Why are we still acting as if this is something that is so out of our hands and possible to achieve?

    “We know better.”

    And yet, the NFL still isn’t doing better.

    This isn't a matter of owners, who are almost exclusively male and even more exclusively white, unconsciously gravitating toward people like them or underestimating the dearth of minority coaches and executives. Owners know full well the NFL has a diversity problem. It’s been a focal point for two decades now, and it’s a topic of great discussion every year at this time.

    They simply don’t care.

    It is not on minorities to fix this. They’re already doing all that should be required of them to advance upward: performing well in the jobs they have, letting their interest in advancement be known and building relationships.

    There’s little more Goodell and the league can do, either. They should increase the Rooney Rule to include coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers and head coaches. They also could hike the fines for teams who violate its provisions, or make a sham of it as Jerry Jones sure seemed to.

    But they cannot change the hearts and minds of people who still see minorities as somehow lesser. Who view diversity as a means of reducing opportunities for a privileged set rather than extending them to people who’ve previously been shut out. That has to come from within.

    The Rooney Rule could have a tremendous impact if owners took it seriously. As it exists now, it's yet one more broken promise of equality.

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