NFL amends anti-tampering rule for head coaching candidates

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Falcons owner Arthur Blank talks about the NFL’s diversity efforts.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

League expands Rooney Rule to include quarterback coaches

The NFL voted to amend its anti-tampering policy, with regard to hiring head coaches, and expanded the Rooney Rule to include quarterback coaches Tuesday at the league meeting at a hotel in Buckhead.

“There is a change to the Rooney Rule,” said Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “Now, QB coach position is subject to the Rooney Rule, and it requires one external minority or female candidate for QB coach positions. Now it’s not only head coach, general manager and coordinator positions, but also the QB coach position.”

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The anti-tampering resolution, which was put forth by the diversity, equity and inclusion committee, is designed to provide head coaching candidates more time to prepare for an interview.

Also, the resolution seeks to improve the interview process for the head coach positions.

“We wanted to make sure that we gave additional time for candidates that are interviewing for head coach positions more time to prepare,” Beane said. “There is a timeline which basically prevents a candidate from interviewing for a head coach position until a number of days. We wanted to slow down the in-person hiring process.”

The NFL now will prohibit teams from holding head coach interviews with candidates who are employed by other NFL teams until the third day after the conclusion of the candidate’s Week 18 game, if a candidate’s team is not in the playoffs or if the team has a playoff bye.

Teams can interview candidates the Tuesday (for Saturday and Sunday playoff games) or Wednesday (for Monday games) following wild-card games for candidates whose teams are playing in those games.

The resolution also will prohibit teams from conducting in-person head coach interviews with candidates who are employed by other NFL teams until after the conclusion of all wild-card playoff games.

Before the conclusion of the wild-card games, hiring teams are permitted to conduct in-person head coach interviews with candidates who are employed by the hiring team or who are not employed in the NFL.

“The rule changes that we made were in response to feedback that we were getting from, in particular, the candidates,” Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney said. “The difficulty of being prepared one day after a game.”

The new rules buy the candidates an extra 48 hours.

“I think our head coach search process takes place in a relatively short window, and what can take place and which week is something that we’ve been studying very hard to make sure that it’s as fair, equitable and thorough of a process that we can make it for both sides,” Rooney said.

Expanding the Rooney Rule to include the quarterback coach is because that is a pipeline position to a coordinator spot, which is the pool that most head coaches come from.

“Our goal is really to foster diversity and inclusion really at all levels of the league,” Rooney said. “I think we are making some progress when you measure it across the league.”

The league has not made much progress in hiring head coaches and is being sued by former Miami coach Brian Flores.

“We know that the most high-profile position that we have is the head coach position, where we haven’t made progress,” Rooney said. “A lot of this is geared directly toward that position.”

The NFL also passed a resolution on rosters. Teams will cut down to 85 players by 4 p.m. Aug. 16, then 80 by 4 p.m. Aug. 23 and then to 53 by 4 p.m. Aug. 30. The league also set forth guidelines for players placed on reserve/physically unable to perform or reserve/non-football injury/illness, per the management council’s executive committee.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank contributed opening remarks to the coach and front-office acceleration program that was held over both days of the meeting.

“This is a wonderful steppingstone,” Blank said. “Relationships matter in life. We certainly found that out during the pandemic, and relationships are important in terms of the hiring practices as we get to know people and get more familiar with their background.”

A total of 62 men and women participated in the program and had meetings with owners from all 32 teams.

“It’s been a learning experience really both ways,” Blank said. “We get to know the candidates better. They get to know us better. We develop mutual relationships.”

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn participated in the program. He wants to be a head coach one day.

“You know what, there are not a lot of differences, only that their bank accounts are bigger than mine,” Glenn said. “But other than that … not a lot of differences.”

Some of the owners were unaware of the minority talent around the league.

“There are so many men and women that I did not know that are a part of our league,” Bills owner Kim Pegula said. “Part of a leadership of the future of our league and our clubs. For an opportunity for myself and my husband, Terry, to actually meet.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Video: The NFL’s Jonathan Beane discusses the Rooney Rule on minority hiring.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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