Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spoke Thursday about minority hiring in the NFL and what needs to be done to improve the number of minorities in the coaching ranks of the league.
Tomlin, who is one of four minority head coaches in the league right now, said in an interview on “Good Morning Football” that “we have to be better.”
“There are less than half the minority coaches in the NFL today than there were in 2007 when I got my job. From that perspective, it is a joke. It needs to be addressed,” Tomlin said.
“I know being on some of the committees, and the things I am on, I know we are working diligently to address it, but the bottom line is it has to be reflected in the hiring. I coach football. I don't hire. But I have also been in the league long enough to know that where we are right now it's comical, although it's not funny.”
When the NFL was considering changes in the Rooney Rule earlier this year, Tomlin said he was in favor of it. The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and front office jobs.
Tomlin said in a May interview on college basketball coach John Calipari’s Facebook series “Coffee with Cal” that incentivizing the Rooney Rule could bring out the positives.
“We've always taken it from the approach of, punitive if you don't interview minority candidates or things of that nature,” Tomlin said. “I just like the different approach in terms of spinning it 180 and talking about maybe incentivizing those that develop the talent and those that hire the talent.”
He didn’t agree with the idea that teams should receive draft-pick compensation for hiring minority candidates as head coaches and general managers, which was being proposed at the time but never enacted.
“We're making some adjustments because we're acknowledging right now that the system is broken, that minorities are not getting enough opportunity,” Tomlin said. “And we're trying to just figure out how to stimulate that. … I agree it's debatable about the value placed on the incentivized plan, but I just generally like the discussion.”