Increased diversity in entry-level positions is critical
One way to increase the number of minority head coaches and General Mangers is to increase the supply of minority candidates. One way to increase the supply of minority candidates is to do so at the entry level.
As explained today in both PFT Live and in more detail in PFTOT, entry-level coaching and front-office jobs often are disproportionately filled due to dynamics like nepotism and cronyism, where who you know (or who you’re related to) becomes the foot in the door.
There’s another important factor at play when it comes to entry-level NFL jobs. They usually pay peanuts.
This makes it difficult for people who don’t have an independent source of financial support to devote their professional lives to a job that doesn’t pay a living wage, especially when there’s a family that is living off the money, or at least trying to. The lack of pay is regarded by many as proof of commitment and passion; if the person is willing to work for little or no money, the person must truly love the job.
But plenty of people who would love the job can’t take the job because they need to make more money and, given the demands of an NFL job, they can’t take a second job.
The answer is simple, even if it won’t be simple to convince teams to go along with it: Pay more money to these staff members who simply can’t afford to take these jobs unless they’re single with little college debt or have some other source of money (like a rich parent) to pay the rent and the bills and to buy food.
Likewise, the NFL should consider eradicating the pathways to opportunity that are independent of skill, ability, education, and character. The best candidates should be selected, without regard to who knows whom and who owes whom a favor, or whatever.
As the NFL presses pause on the process for further discussion and debate, here’s to having further discussion and debate on ways to get more minority candidates into jobs that will give them a chance to prove themselves and to climb the ladder while also paying them enough money so that they can afford to actually stick around while their career does, or doesn’t, develop.