NFL-173          12/20/02



NFL clubs will implement a comprehensive program to promote diversity in their coaching and front office ranks based upon recommendations of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity, the NFL announced today.

The Committee, appointed by NFL Commissioner Tagliabue on October 31, reviewed its recommendations in a series of conference calls with owners on December 19 and 20.

The Committee’s recommendations include:

                        ▪  Early interview opportunities for playoff coaches
                        ▪  A commitment to interview minority head coaching candidates
                        ▪  Establishment of a coordinator/assistant head coach career data bank
                        ▪  Expanded training and development programs
                        ▪  Expanded internships

Earlier this week, the Committee recommended that the League’s Anti-Tampering Policy be modified to permit assistant coaches on playoff teams to be interviewed for head coaching opportunities before their teams are eliminated from the playoffs.  That recommendation, endorsed by the League’s Competition Committee, has been approved.

The NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity is chaired by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and includes four other NFL owners – Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos, Stan Kroenke of the St. Louis Rams, and Jeff Lurie of the Philadelphia Eagles.  The committee is supported by a working group of club football executives comprised of Atlanta’s Ray Anderson, the New York Jets’ Terry Bradway, Tampa Bay’s Rich McKay, Baltimore’s Ozzie Newsome, and Indianapolis’ Bill Polian.

On the December 19-20 conference calls, the owners strongly agreed on the principle that any club seeking to hire a head coach will interview one or more minority applicants for the position.  The one exception occurs when a club has made a prior contractual commitment to promote a member of its own staff and no additional interviewing takes place (e.g. Mike Martz and the St. Louis Rams in 2000). 

The amendment to the Anti-Tampering Policy will apply in the upcoming playoffs. It permits a club with an open head coaching position to request permission to conduct one interview with an assistant coach employed by a playoff team when that club has a playoff bye or has a Wild Card playoff game. All such interviews would have to occur at a time and place convenient to the current employer and would have to be completed prior to the start of the Divisional Playoffs.

This change in the interview process has the potential to expand opportunities for top NFL assistants, including minorities, on playoff teams to obtain head coaching positions.

The Diversity Committee and its working group also compiled a detailed career information book on a large number of prospective head coaching candidates, i.e. all current coordinators and assistant head coaches plus their key references. This information will supplement the program of videotape interviews of high potential assistant coaches that was initiated five years ago to support the head coach hiring process.  

In the area of training and development, the committee will launch a pilot program in 2003 for coaches with a leading business school in conjunction with the NFL coaching symposium held each May at the league’s spring owners meeting. The program will focus on coaching preparation. The committee then will consider expanding the program to other locations and including front office careers as well as coaching.

On a longer-term basis, the committee emphasized the importance of more effectively addressing career development and diversity in all front office positions, both in football and business operations. The membership will evaluate an expanded program of training and development for club employees to assist in identifying and developing front office personnel and coaches with high potential. These employees would be given the opportunity for advanced, specialized training in a wide range of areas.

The membership also expressed strong support for an expanded program of internships at both the coaching and front office levels, as well as NFL Europe, as a way of enhancing opportunities for women and minorities interested in a career in football.

“Our initial focus has been on the head coaching position,” the committee said in its memo to club owners. “We have had numerous meetings and held discussions with a wide range of people, including club owners and executives, current and former players and coaches, and knowledgeable people outside the NFL. Overall our goal has been to assist clubs in approaching the hiring process in ways that will lead to better decisions and enhance opportunities for well-qualified coaches.”

The committee and working group will continue to meet over the next several months and will report to all clubs at the NFL Annual Meeting March 23-27 in Phoenix.