Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was not thrilled about a proposed change to the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” that would reward teams for hiring minority coaches and general managers.
Speaking to Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio, Lynn, who is black, described such a policy as well-intentioned but “wrong.”
“I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing,” Lynn told Gelb.
According to @JimTrotter_NFL there is a #NFL proposal trying to incentivize hiring minority coaching & GM candidates by rewarding teams with improved draft slots. #Chargers HC Anthony Lynn told @ZachGelb, “Sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing.” pic.twitter.com/EWGxJ0B005
— CBS Sports Radio (@CBSSportsRadio) May 16, 2020
The proposed change to the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate during head coaching searches, was announced Friday.
Under the proposal, a team that hired a minority head coach or general manager would be rewarded during the draft, NFL.com reported.
For example, if a team were to hire a minority coach, it would see its third-round draft pick move up by six spots. If a team were to hire both a minority coach and a minority GM, the third-round draft pick would move up 16 spots. If the coach or GM were retained for up to three years, the team’s fourth-round pick would move up by five spots.
“I think this is out of desperation, this is something that we’re throwing out there, but it is what it is. … You can’t make people hire someone they don’t want to hire for whatever reason,” Lynn told CBS Sports.
He said that “there are a lot of qualified African-American coaches right now that could be a head coach in this league, and I just pray that we do our due diligence and give these guys an opportunity.”
Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly supported the proposed rule change, it was tabled Tuesday, according to NFL.com’s Jim Trotter.
BREAKING: NFL owners have tabled the resolution to incentivize the hiring of minority coaches and general managers, per source.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) May 19, 2020
Instead, the league made other changes intended to increase diversity, including changing the Rooney Rule to require clubs to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching openings and at least one minority candidate for any coordinator job, according to NFL.com.
Incentivizing such hires through the draft is another matter.
What such a plan essentially says is that the league is willing to prioritize fulfilling racial quotas over hiring the person seen as best for the job — which would jeopardize the competitiveness of professional football by diminishing the importance of merit in hiring coaches and executives.
Those teams found coaches who management thought would give them the best chance at winning football games.
Tomlin, for example, has a regular-season record of 133-74-1 and led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory.
His football mind and coaching ability, and not the color of his skin, are behind the success.
Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who is also black, was fired after losing a game to Tomlin’s Steelers in 2018.
Jackson went 3-36-1 over two-and-a-half seasons with the team, and the Browns showed him the door.
Would the proposed change to the Rooney Rule have incentivized the Browns to retain Jackson for his entire third year and further agonize fans?
What kind of a message would such a policy send to season ticket holders and die-hard fans who watched Jackson carry the Browns to a pathetic 0-16 record in 2017?
It seems like the proposal is itself racist for implying that hiring minority coaches would put teams at some sort of disadvantage, to the point where they need to make up a leadership deficit with more skilled players.
It also could hurt talented and qualified white coaches, who might lose a job to a less-qualified candidate for no reason other than their skin color.
Competitive sports are supposed to be a pure meritocracy.
The best players in the NFL — a majority of whom are black — start on Sundays. The most talented coaches are hired or fired based on what their teams do on the field.
The playing field is already level. Adding racial incentives is completely antithetical to the nature of competition.
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