National Football League (NFL), It Takes All of Us

by Savoy Staff

Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President, Football Operations, NFL

While there’s been much progress, there is much more work to be done as we strive to a more fair, just and inclusive environment.  The NFL continues to annually examine and evaluate our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) best practices and policies. Across all 32 clubs, different races, belief systems and those from varying socioeconomic strata work together toward a common goal. Teammates may have their differences, but their commitment to one another is a binding force making diversity, equity and inclusion work. We see examples of this every game day here at the National Football League.

We also recognize that there are areas where we must improve and live up to our aspirations, especially with minority and female hiring in the ranks of our coaching and front office personnel. Recognizing the need for fair and equitable hiring practices, the best minds in football are working to develop policies and processes that give everyone a fair and equitable opportunity — beginning with establishing the Rooney Rule in 2003 to require interviews of minority candidates for head coaching positions. While improvements continue to be made to this hiring tool, the pace of progress is unacceptable. We don’t hide our disappointment. We accept the challenge.

Successful teams find ways to overcome adversity during challenging times. We reform our hiring practices by reimagining the game plan for coaching and front office mobility of minority prospects. Our goal is to change culture, develop trust and provide equal opportunity. The NFL 7-point Mobility Plan informs a wholistic approach toward hiring practices. The plan includes intentional actions such as: Club and League Education; specific Club and League DEI Plans; Talent Identification; Pipeline Development and Networking Opportunities; Universal Data Collection; Reporting & Measuring to accurately track progress; and Policy Changes.

As part of the policy changes, our goals have been to increase the mobility opportunities of minority coaches and primary football executives.

Our Policy changes include: 

  • Anti-Tampering Policy – Amends the Anti-Tampering Policy to allow position coaches under contract with a club to interview for coordinator positions for another club; also allows football operations personnel under contract to interview for a secondary football executive position. Clubs prohibited from denying certain employees under contract from interviewing with other clubs during defined periods in the calendar
  • Rewards for Development – Rewards clubs for developing minority employees who move to the position of Primary Football Executive or Head Coach with other clubs
  • Media Policy – Updated policy to increase the interaction between Assistant Coaches and media throughout the season.
  • Rooney Rules – Require interviews with at least two external minority candidates for the head coach position and at least 
one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator positions and at least one external minority for the senior football 
ops/GM position

Over the years, a number of people including Club Owners, Coaches, Players, league executives, and others — have worked hard for diversity, equity and inclusion prior to the Rooney Rule’s adoption. Starting with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Steelers owner Dan Rooney, the rule’s namesake,  team owners such as Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Denver’s Pat Bowlen, Philadelphia’s Jeffrey Lurie, the Rams’ Stan Kroenke, and Hall of Fame members such as Paul Brown, Al Davis, Lamar Hunt, and Wellington Mara, were trailblazers for diversity and inclusion.

There is more work to do. Just as football brings people of all races, genders, and walks of life together in stadiums across the globe, the sport is exemplifying how true diversity, equity and inclusion can and is working. It is a message to the nation that it truly takes all of us.


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