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The owners approved a proposal that will change the league’s anti-tampering policy by prohibiting teams from denying an assistant coach the chance to interview with a new team for a head coach or coordinator position, regardless of their contract status. It also broadens the rule to allow lower-level football executives under contract with one team to interview for an assistant general manager’s job with another.The measure will stop teams from blocking coaches on their staffs from pursuing jobs outside the organization, which has prevented coaches of color from landing better jobs in the past.The owners rejected a more contentious plan to reward teams that hire head coaches or general managers of color with improved picks in the N.F.L. draft. Under that measure, a team that hired a nonwhite head coach would have moved up six spots from its position in the third round of the draft that preceded that coach’s second season. A team that hired a nonwhite candidate to fill the general manager’s position would have moved up 10 spots in the third round of the draft before that executive’s second season with the team.“The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future,” Art Rooney II, the Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee, said in a statement. “These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations.”The more aggressive proposal sought to shift the league’s approach to racially diverse hiring practices from punitive to incentive-based. Currently the N.F.L.’s franchises are subject to the Rooney Rule, a 17-year old policy that compels teams to interview at least one candidate of color for its top coaching and personnel jobs, guidance enforced by the levying of fines at the commissioner’s discretion. Teams are rarely penalized for violating the rule and in a league where three-quarters of players are nonwhite and just four coaches and two general managers are people of color, the rule’s efficacy has come under fire.The reward-based proposal had been met with widespread criticism, including from African-American players and coaches who worried about the negative effect it might have on the perception of those hired. “I just have never been in favor of rewarding people for doing the right thing,” said Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts coach, in a podcast interview. “And so I think there’s going to be some unintended consequences.”“The problem is, it can’t be about incentives. It’s got to be about giving the right coaches the right opportunities,” Sam Acho, a member of the N.F.L. Players Association’s executive committee, told ESPN. “The problem with the N.F.L. is that there’s so much cronyism; it’s all about who you know.”The decisions came at a scheduled one-day virtual meeting of the league’s owners.Clubs will also have to send the league office the job descriptions of their coaches and coordinators to prevent teams from changing that person’s job title later as a way to block them from looking for work outside the organization.The league also will strengthen the Rooney Rule, which did not require a vote to amend. Under the enhanced Rooney Rule, teams now must interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching vacancies, up from one; at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator vacancies; and at least one external minority candidate for the senior football operations or general manager position.The Rooney Rule will now also be applied to executive positions in team front offices. The league office and clubs must interview minorities and/or female applicants for all senior positions including club president and executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology and security.



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