Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has described planned changes to the NFL’s Rooney Rule as “a step in the right direction”, adding that “there hasn’t been enough progress” since the rule was first introduced in 2003.
The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. But, in 2020, the NFL has only three full-time African-American head coaches, the same number as in 2003 when the rule was adopted.
NFL owners met last week and approved a proposal which incentivises the development of minority coaches and executives, which will see teams rewarded with a third-round compensatory draft pick in back-to-back drafts if another team hires a member of their staff to a higher role – subject to approval from the NFL Players Association.
Former Houston Oilers quarterback Moon, himself a trailblazer in the NFL as the first African-American QB to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, believes the NFL’s new proposal needs to be just the start of a wider review into the Rooney Rule system.
“They understand the Rooney Rule hasn’t worked the way it was supposed to,” Moon told Sky Sports. “Something has to change because there hasn’t been enough progress.
“I think there was up to eight African American coaches at one time maybe back in 2007.
“I see what the NFL is trying to do, they’re trying to incentivise these teams to give them opportunities to get draft picks so they will hire more African-American head coaches and I understand that part of it, but I think the whole system has to change somehow.
“I think one way of doing it is we have to get more minorities in leadership and ownership positions, because when you’re an owner now you can pretty much make the choices you want to make and can hire the people you want to hire.
“If we can get more African Americans in ownership and then we can start to make some of the decisions about general managers, about presidents and head coaches, I think those numbers will rise.
“I like what the NFL is trying to do, incentivising teams to create more opportunities for African-Americans because we should have more opportunities.”
Shaun Gayle, Super Bowl XX winner with the Chicago Bears, echoed Moon’s comments, adding: “They’ve got to get away from the old standard of how they handle things.
“You take a look at the Rooney Rule and that was I believe in 2003 and there were three black head coaches and we find ourselves in that same position now in 2020.
“Something has to give in order to achieve real diversity.
“Usually it’s an offensive coordinator who gets the first shot, some defensive coordinators, but there are a lot of young coaches that aren’t given the opportunity.
“And, if a black coach is elected head coach, the chances of him repeating – meaning if he gets fired, him finding another team – is really low and they’ve got to change that.”
The NFL is set to make history on new ground this weekend, with an all-black officiating team refereeing a game for the first time as the Los Angeles Rams face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.
Jerome Boger will lead the historic crew, which includes umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young believes he can see change starting to happen for African-Americans in the NFL and wants to see that replicated across wider society.
“It’s good to know that the NFL are starting to recognise it, with women too, with referees and coaches,” Young said.
“I think it’s great that they’re starting to do that and it’s time for change.
“It’s not just in the NFL, but across professional business. It’s time for change, for more African-Americans to be rewarded more for their success, with the younger generation making the progress.”
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