NFL team owners looking for a new head coach or general manager are now required to complete inclusive training for hire before starting the search.
The league announced the requirement in October, and a league source said many teams have already been trained. Those who are considered “decision makers” in the hiring process—team owners, general managers, etc.—should be trained before starting work.
While diversity scores in many NFL rankings have improved over the years, the league still struggles with diversity among head coaches. The league welcomed 10 new head coaches last year, but only three – Lovie Smith, Mike McDaniel and Todd Bowles – were of color. Last season in the NFL, 12 of the 13 offensive coordinator roles available went to whites.
From the start of the 2012 season to the start of the 2022 season, over 80% of all head coaches hired were white males.
Teams are also strongly encouraged, but not required, to engage an inclusive coach/hiring process expert to search for a head coach. This person will help ensure the fairness of the process, but will not participate in the decision-making process.
There is no single way that teams take on training. The NFL offers eight different coaches with their own styles to choose from. The training itself lasts from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and the training can be virtual or in person.
In December, the league provided teams with a 33-page fair hiring practice document. The guide offers advice on a more inclusive hiring process, including “checking for bias in the selection rationale”.
“By requiring all decision makers, including club owners who are looking for head coaches and general managers, to complete inclusive recruitment training, we are committed to improving the league’s hiring practices and supporting a fair and inclusive process across all 32 clubs.” — Jonathan Bean . The NFL’s chief director of diversity and inclusion said in a statement provided to CBS Sports. “With this new requirement – along with other significant changes to our policies, programs and procedures that we have established in 2022 – we continue to improve our overall recruitment process.”
The requirements of the Rooney rule have also been intensifying in recent years. Open Head Coach, General Manager, or Team Coordinator positions must personally interview two external candidates who are either people of color or women. Teams with interim head coaches or grandmasters will have to go through the entire process today, even if they want to hire the current interim coach.
The league also introduced new off-season rules designed to slow down the hiring process. If a team wants to interview a head coaching candidate who is either not in the playoffs or is in first place in the playoffs, they must wait up to three days after the candidate’s game ends in week 18. In other words, if a team with a vacancy wants to interview a playoff team, it must wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to conduct a virtual interview.
If a team wants to interview a head coaching candidate whose team is in the wildcard round, they must wait until the Tuesday or Wednesday after the wildcard round, depending on which day that team played. This interview can be in person or virtual.
Teams must conduct an initial interview with candidates currently on an NFL team prior to the conclusion of the divisional playoff round. A second playoff team candidate interview will not be allowed until after that team has been eliminated from competition in the postseason or until the last week before the Super Bowl if the team is competing in the Super Bowl.