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In a push for diversity, the NFL is adjusting its rules with new legislation in place requiring all 32 teams to hire either "a minority or a female" coach to their offensive staffs.
Throughout the hundred-year-old history of the sport, there hasn't been a single woman in a head coaching role, with owners and GMs having historically selected new head coaches who come from offensive team backgrounds - rather than defensive.
It's understood the league believes this new move to put more "members from ethnic or racial minorities and women" into significant positions on offensive staffs could ultimately lead to more of them in top positions.
"In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds," the NFL said in a statement.
"We believe this resolution will assist greatly in continuing to source and identify diverse candidates earlier in their career."
Pittsburgh Steelers owner and the chairman of the NFL Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee Art Rooney II insists the overarching aim of the new rule is to increase opportunities for women and people of colour.
"We clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator [job]," Rooney II said.
"It's really an effort to try to bring more talented minority coaches to the offensive side of the ball, both within the league and hopefully attract those talented individuals from the college ranks."
He added: "The truth of the matter is that as of today, at least, there aren't many women in the pool in terms of head coach.
"We hope that is going to change over the years, but for that reason we didn't see it as inhibiting the number of interviews for racial minorities at this point in time. Obviously, we can address that as time goes on, but for now we didn't see that as an issue.
"We recognise we have seen progress on some fronts, but we still have a way to go on other fronts."
Some changes to the NFL's Rooney Rule:- B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) March 29, 2022
- Women will now be included in all Rooney Rule requirements
- All teams must now hire a "a diverse person (female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority)" to work closely with the HC and offensive staff as an offensive assistant pic.twitter.com/OL1jzg5ALa
Teams will have to make these hires at the beginning of this season, which commences in early September.
As for franchises who already have an offensive staff member who is either "a minority or female", they would have technically fulfilled this requirement.
For a league where more than two-thirds of the players are black, there are only five people of a "minority" background who are in head coaching roles as of 2022.
Mike McDaniel has begun his tenure with the Miami Dolphins, Ron Rivera is boss at the newly-named Washington Commanders, Robert Saleh is in charge of the New York Jets, Lovie Smith has stepped into the lead role in Houston with the Texans and Mike Tomlin is now in his 15th year with the Steelers.
As for females in head coaching gigs, there hasn't been a single one since the NFL was founded back in 1920.
That said, there were 12 women in various coaching roles for the 2021 season - which was the highest in the NFL's history.
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