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NFL's Troy Vincent envisions future where Rooney Rule is "unnecessary"

Browns GM Andrew Berry was one of only two Black GMs on team payrolls from the '20 hiring cycleGETTY IMAGES

NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent in an op-ed for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE writes 43% of NFL GM openings were filled by minority candidates in '21, representing "significant and historic progress," but there is "more work to be done -- another hiring cycle is upon us." Vincent: "If we remain diligent, we can get to a place where a tool such as the Rooney Rule ... will be unnecessary." In the past, teams "weren't aware of excellent executives of color," so the league has "cultivated a pathway that gets the best candidates from diverse backgrounds in front of NFL clubs." Accountability is "introduced into the process," as data is "collected and tracked on the number of interviews and job offers." The results have been "encouraging." Only two clubs had Black GMs on the payroll from the '20 hiring cycle. In '21, that number "more than doubled -- three Black candidates filled seven open GM positions -- and 28 of the 59 candidates interviewed were minorities." Further, the NFL views it as "just a matter of time" before the league’s "first woman to hold the title of GM." Women are "rising in the ranks of coaching, officiating and front office executive positions." The league is "committed to creating an inclusive workplace culture" and "re-imagining hiring practices." Vincent: "Creating a new playbook. Specializing with intentionality. Identifying and lifting up the game-changers. Trusting the process." That is "how inclusive front offices are ... built" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/19).

OWNERS DON'T SEEM CONCERNED: In Baltimore, Mike Preston writes it would be "embarrassing if there weren’t several new Black coaches." But league owners "don’t care," as they have "gotten around the 'Rooney Rule.'" They have "no interest in giving an opposing team another draft pick for hiring a minority candidate from a rival organization." Very seldom have teams "hired a Black coach for a second stint." NFL owners are still a "thriving 'good ole boys' network." Most of them have "only one concern, and that’s money" (BALTIMORE SUN, 1/19). USA TODAY's Mike Jones notes NFL teams are "indeed helping fund meaningful work by their players by donating millions of dollars a year to grassroots organizations focused on combating social injustice, educational challenges and improving career advancement for people of color." Jones: "But can we stop acting like the NFL’s owners care about equality and creating opportunities for people of color? Sure, some of them do. But they are in the minority." Any person of color working in the NFL’s coaching or talent evaluator ranks will "insist that from their first-hand experiences, NFL owners -- the only individuals with ultimate hiring power -- still don’t truly view people of color as viable options for prime leadership positions." The owners can sign off on a "bolstered Rooney Rule." They can "pat Black assistant coaches and front office members on the back." But "when it comes down to it," people of color are, "in the minds of most NFL owners, not head-coach material" (USA TODAY, 1/19).

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