NFL continues to make incremental, widespread progress in diversity hiring, report says

The National Football League continues to make incremental, widespread progress in its diversity hiring practices, according to an annual report.

Thursday’s report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida gave the NFL an overall grade of B-plus, which is the highest mark for the league since the study began in 1988. The league received a B-plus mark for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring.

There are still a few areas of concern — particularly in the ownership ranks — but TIDES director Adrien Bouchet said Thursday that the report is largely good news.

“It’s the most positive NFL report since we started doing them,” Bouchet said. “The league has made major strides over the past decade, and particularly the past few years.”

Among the highlights: There were nine general managers who were people of color at the start of the 2023 season — 30% of the league. Also, the overall percentage of people of color who have an NFL assistant coaching position rose to 43.6%, which is up from last year, and has improved from 31.8% in 2013, which earned an A-plus grade.

Las Vegas Raiders interim HC Antonio Pierce makes a call during game against the Minnesota Vikings, Dec. 10, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The NFL had six minority head coaches at the beginning of the season, including Houston’s DeMeco Ryans, Miami’s Mike McDaniel, Washington’s Ron Rivera, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles and the New York Jets’ Robert Saleh. In addition, the Las Vegas Raiders named Antonio Pierce the team’s interim coach following Week 8 after Josh McDaniels was fired.

The move meant the Raiders are the first NFL team to have a Black coach, general manager and team president at the same time.

The seven minority head coaches is close to the report’s all-time high, which was eight in 2011, 2017 and 2018.

There were also positive hiring trends at the NFL’s league office, where the percentage of people of color and women rose from 2022, earning an A grade.

The one major trouble spot is still at the top. The NFL received an F for the racial diversity of its team owners and a D-plus for the group’s gender diversity. The NFL’s two people of color who have significant ownership interests include Jacksonville’s Shad Khan, a Pakistani-born American businessman, and Buffalo’s Kim Pegula, an Asian-American woman.

“That’s a metric we put in a couple years ago,” Bouchet said. “It’s a good metric, but it’s not going to change over the course of a few years.”

TIDES issues annual report cards on racial- and gender-hiring practices in professional leagues and for college sports.


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