News Column

NFL Symposium Focuses on Diversity Hiring

May 8, 2013
NFL football

After a hiring cycle that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called disappointing, the NFL hosted a career development symposium Tuesday at Penn's Wharton School.

Eight new head coaches and seven new general managers were hired this offseason, but none of them was a minority candidate.

In March, Goodell identified the symposium as way to improve the Rooney Rule, which was established in 2003 and requires a minority candidate to be interviewed in a head-coaching search. The rule was upgraded in 2007 to include searches for general managers.

Tuesday's panelists included Giants and Jets owners John Mara and Woody Johnson; Giants general manager Jerry Reese and Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff; and two coaches, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers and Mike Smith of the Falcons. Eagles coach Chip Kelly is scheduled to speak in a session on Wednesday.

Each NFL team sent one assistant coach and one front office member as participants. For the Eagles, special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp and director of college scouting Anthony Patch attended.

"The realities are we need sessions like this," said former Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of player development. "Because it was not a coach's inability or ability to coach [in the last hiring cycle]. It's familiarity. You hire people that you're comfortable with. I'm not going to inject the race card. And this kind of setting allows [for] coaches that are minority and non-minority. We're in a coaching-development business."

Vincent noted that Eagles GM Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski were at a Monday reception to meet up-and-coming coaches and executives. Even if the Eagles are not hiring anytime soon, those are helpful relationships, Vincent said.

Vincent moderated a panel focusing on managing and coaching today's players. Eagles safety Patrick Chung and Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain (a George Washington High alumnus) were on the panel.

Chung's message was for coaches to "just be honest" with players, stressing that there cannot be internal squabbles.

"He was open, he was honest -- brutally honest -- and he was transparent," Vincent said. "He was sharing what he likes and what he dislikes, but this is how this young guy is processing things today. It was real."

Tomlin conveyed Chung's message from the coaching side. Tomlin called this past hiring cycle "alarming" and emphasized the number of qualified minority candidates.

"I think events like this, hopefully, will improve that situation," Mara said.

To increase minority hiring, the league could extend the Rooney Rule to coordinator spots or stop blocking position coaches from jobs with other teams.

Mara echoed Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who has said that more minority hires at the college level would help in the NFL.

"There's no question we get our candidates from two places: coordinators and college coaches," Mara said. "Unfortunately, the number of minority coaches in college are few . . . And that shrinks the pool right there."

Jaguars owner Shad Khan said the most helpful part of the symposium was Monday's reception, when he had the chance to meet the coaches and executives in an informal setting.

"Big-time value for me, because I know their names, I know some of their backgrounds, but how am I going to meet them other than a setting like this?" Khan said. "I think they'd ought to do this more often, quite frankly."



Source: (c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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