In a recent Shadow League interview, Fritz Pollard Alliance Chairman John Wooten said his organization was vexed that no minority hires were chosen to fill 15 HC and front office NFL positions this offseason, and they had a plan in place to flip the script on the depressing situation.
It seems The FPA ‘s proactive mojo is all the way turned up, and the plan Wooten referred to was outlined in a letter signed by Wooten and Executive Director Harry Carson and sent by overnight mail, to the NFL’s Park Avenue quarters.
The FPA has asked the NFL to expand the Rooney Rule, which currently requires at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for every head-coaching and G.M. vacancy, to include coordinators, assistant head coaches, and team presidents in an effort to increase the pool of potential minority candidates for these plush, “leadership” gigs.
While the FPA acknowledges that the Rooney Rule hasn’t parted the seas and moved mountains, it has increased diversity among the NFL’s head coaches. A Rooney Rule Fact sheet, distributed by the FPA notes that almost twice as many minority HCs have been hired in the last 10 years under the Rooney Rule (12), than the six hired in the NFL’s 80 proceeding years. It can be assumed that expanding the scope of the rule, will improve overall hiring numbers.
A previous Shadow League article , “In the NFL Offensive Play Calling Is a White Man’s Job” , researched the pipeline every NFL coach took to becoming an OC, which is the quickest and most common final step to becoming a head coach. Being a QB coach or play-calling college head coach, are also fast-track jobs. Traditionally a black assistant coach’s road to NFL leadership, has been cultivated through their work on D or as wide receivers and running back coaches.
From Wooten’s letter: “Far too few minority coaches have been given offensive coordinator and play calling responsibilities, and in this quarterback-dominated era it seems clubs are increasingly looking for offensive coaches to fill head coaching positions. Without this expansion of the Rooney Rule, it is hard for us to see minority coaches in the league getting the head coaching opportunities they deserve. “
In order to keep pace with the recent explosion on the offensive side of the ball, the FPA is also prepared to present an initiative for a play-calling training program – a school of Hard Knocks -- for minority coaches, which will enhance their coaching pool and temper doubts owners may have about a minority candidate’s experience, organizational skills or intellectual capability.
In response to the difficulties owners face with finding minority front office personnel with backgrounds in high-level corporate management, the FPA proposed that the “NFL (also) reinitiate its front office and coaching symposia with the purpose of training more minority coaches and front office personnel” to be ready to hit the ground hot-stepping when the opportunity arises.