The NFL Can't Fix What's Wrong With Quotas

The NFL Can't Fix What's Wrong With Quotas

The NFL keeps digging and digging. Shockingly, the hole they’re standing in keeps getting deeper and deeper. Who would’ve thunk it?

On Monday, the National Football League enacted a policy that requires at least one minority assistant coach on their offensive staff. The move comes after complaints that the league isn’t doing enough to promote minorities into key staff positions.

“We clearly have a trend where our head coaches are coming from the offensive side of the ball in recent years,” [Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II, the chairman of the NFL’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee] said. “And we clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator positions. So without oversimplifying it, it’s really an effort to try to bring more talented minority coaches to the offensive side of the ball.”

As a conservative consumer, I do bristle at the thought of racial quotas. It’s creepy, Orwellian, and unconstitutional. It’s especially bizarre when you’re talking about an industry in which the majority of its most elite employees are black or another racial minority. It’s extra-especially bizarre when you’re talking about an industry that knowingly and admittedly engages in a practice known as “race-norming,” in which NFL doctors account for a man’s limited cognitive ability according to his race when trying to determine injuries in workers comp payouts. Black men are given a lower grade on the cognitive scale, which essentially means they have less cognitive ability to lose, which means they can’t prove to the NFL that they’ve suffered neurological issues from the job.

So, it’s a little hard to take the NFL seriously when they suddenly want to tell the rest of us that they’re concerned about racial justice. They’re all over the map.

The powers-that-be in the league and across the sports industry have gotten themselves into a real pickle. They’ve sold their mission (sports entertainment) for the price of entry into the Woke Olympics. It would have been one thing were it sincere, but they were simply trying to buy absolution so they could keep on doing what they wanted while appeasing the squeaky wheels. Unfortunately for them, their absolution has come at a much higher cost. There used to be a time when you simply had Al Sharpton over for dinner, listened to a sermon from him at the dinner table, and handed him an envelope of cash on his way out the door. The next day the fine Reverend would offer his public forgiveness and everyone moves on. The NFL made the mistake of trying to strike that deal with Black Lives Matter, and they are not nearly as reasonable as the Reverend Al. They want your money and your reputation. At least Sharpton recognizes that you can’t completely destroy the people who feed off your absolution business. You’ll need return customers. BLM is run by people with no experience in activism, politics, or economics. They’re exactly the wrong people to hitch your wagon to and yet that’s exactly what the NFL has done.

Now they’re stuck in a never-ending loop of racial appeasement, and now they’re stuck with quotas.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to at least be noticing that some aspects of your organization seem less likely to be occupied by minorities. I think it’s a sign of modern hysteria to assume that is because of racial bias. More black players play defensive positions than offensive positions. I know there’s a case to be made that years of traditional coaching in the league has produced an implicit bias in that regard. Maybe that’s true. In fact, it probably is true.

But quotas are never the way to reach real equality. They create more issues. The NFL was being put on the hook for not treating minority employees with enough respect, but now here they are being forced into counting employees by race. I don’t think any little boy playing flag football dreams of growing up to one day become Black Guy #2 for the Dallas Cowboys. Being a quota feels…well…bigoted.

I like the idea of being deliberate about expanding perspective in your workplace. We try to do the same thing here at RedState. However, expanding perspective and laying down an astroturf road to absolution are two different things. Training programs, race coaching, new oversight committees – these are all concessions to activists who will make money being the trainers and the race coaches and the oversight committees. They aren’t designed to actually change anything. It’s bribery. They’re the new Al Sharptons without the business sense. If the NFL really wanted to foster minority players in coaching positions, they should take a cue from a much less glitzy American success story.


The fast food chain is famous for their education and mentoring programs. Aspiring franchise owners and corporate ladder climbers can go to McDonald’s University to be mentored and trained to step into these positions. It has created a culture in which one successful generation is teaching the next. Everybody wins and positions are filled by opportunity, not quota.

The NFL could do the same. They could start their own NFL University, and commit to training former athletes, aspiring coaches and low-level members of the corporate class to climb the ranks and eventually take those positions of leadership. Most NFL players have short careers, and very few will go on to fame and glory once their careers are done. But many of them are smart, driven and love the game. Instead of hiring a department of anti-racist, human resources swamp creatures, hire two or three recruiters, and have them start pulling from the athletes rotating out of player status. Have them identify talent the way you would for the game itself, and then start developing that talent.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but a just and thoughtful “fix” does take time, and that’s how you know that none of the people involved in this silliness care about what does or doesn’t get fixed. They just want headlines.

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