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Problems with NFL’s hiring practices aren’t limited to diversity

Posted By Kris Jones On January 23, 2013 @ 9:55 am In Blog View | 7 Comments

Earlier this week, the NFL said they are disappointed with the “lack of diversity” [1] that has plagued the hiring of 15 key positions  (coaches and General Managers) since December 30, the conclusion of the regular season.

In a sport dominated by minorities on the field, the NFL definitely doesn’t want to look like their franchies aren’t equal-opportunity employers in capacities greater than playing the game itself. While the NFL is worrying about skin color, they’re ignoring a potential disaster when it comes to their biggest revenue generating-game of the season.

Before Ravens head coach John Harbaugh walked off the stage during his press conference, he announced the team had made two personnel moves. They removed the “interim” tag from Jim Caldwell’s offensive coordinator title ,and hired former Eagles defensive coordinator/offensive line coach Juan Castillo to be the run-game coordinator.

Based on the way the offense is playing, Caldwell’s promotion isn’t a surprise; however, Castillo’s hire less than two weeks prior to the Super Bowl is enough to raise a few eyebrows.

Hiring a coach late into the season is nothing new. Just last week, New England hired former Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll [2]. Daboll was the Chiefs’ OC this season, including when they played the Ravens in Week 5.

Last year, Josh McDaniels was hired as an offensive assistant by the Patriots after being terminated as the head coach of the Rams. At the time, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had accepted the head coaching position at Penn State and would leave the Patriots following the Super Bowl. McDaniels’ hire made perfect sense to replace O’Brien, but it also gave the Patriots leverage.

Earlier in the 2011 season, McDaniels’ Rams team had played the AFC North (including the Ravens) – as had the Patriots.

What the Patriots did with McDaniels and the Ravens are subsequently now doing with Castillo doesn’t violate any NFL rules, but at some point, it’ll cause an unfair advantage on the NFL’s biggest stage.

The fact that Harbaugh would hire Castillo shouldn’t come as a surprise given their coaching history in Philadelphia with the Eagles organization. Unlike McDaniels a season prior, Castillo hasn’t had to prepare for his new team’s Super Bowl opponents. Castillo hasn’t faced the 49er’s since Week 4 in 2011 – eight weeks prior to the Harbaugh brothers’ first meeting on Thanksgiving that season.

Players available via free agency that late in the season aren’t going to make a huge impact on the game but a coach could give plenty of information. NFL rules state that a playoff team may make a maximum of four free-agent signings during the playoffs. Teams are allowed to sign others from NFL practice squads around the league and teams aren’t allowed to sign more than two players during each week.

Even though it’s unlikely to happen, the NFL has allowed the door to be open for coaches like Cam Cameron to accept a job in San Francisco. Cameron had spent 4.5 years with the Ravens before being fired mid-season and has a ton of knowledge of the inner working of a Super Bowl team. And he is out there, “roaming the streets,” ready to be hired by San Francisco, should they choose to do so.

If Cameron accepted a job in San Francsico now, it would be a shot to his credibility and long coaching career because his involvement would be evident. Cameron doesn’t want to commit career suicide if his tenure didn’t work out in San Francisco but at the same time, the NFL has left the door open for such a thing to happen.

Heck, some have suggested that the Ravens hire San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s former college coach [3] to help him prepare for his “pistol” offense this week.

Now, I’m all for anything that helps the Ravens but, objectively, is that really a fair thing to do?

We’ll welcome Castillo into Baltimore and he will be an extra set of experienced eyes to go over the game planning against the 49ers.  The move is smart for Harbaugh to do whatever he can to gain the upper hand, but hopefully this is the last time this is brought up.

The integrity of the Super Bowl is more important than making sure a minority is offered a job interview just to be told “no” anyway. The NFL should have their priorities straight and if they weren’t thinking about a lack of a rule for hiring coaches late into the season before, they should now.


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URLs in this post:

[1] “lack of diversity”: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/01/18/nfl-says-hiring-of-coaches-reflects-disappointing-lack-of-diversity/

[2] hired former Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/01/14/4010606/patriots-hire-ex-chiefs-offensive.html

[3] some have suggested that the Ravens hire San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s former college coach: http://www.rantsports.com/nfl/2013/01/22/baltimore-ravens-should-make-key-addition-to-win-harbowl/