Anthony Lynn on proposed Rooney Rule changes: 'You can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing'

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Proposed modifications to the NFL’s Rooney Rule came out on Friday in an effort to get more teams to hire minority head coaches and general managers.

While he appreciates the sentiment behind the new ideas, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn — one of four minority head coaches in the league — isn’t a fan of how the league is going about it.

“I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing,” Lynn said on CBS Sports Radio on Friday afternoon.

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Proposed changes come ‘out of desperation’

Team owners will reportedly vote next week during a virtual meeting on proposed changes to the rule, which would incentivize teams to hire more minority candidates with improved draft picks.

Among the proposed changes, teams would move up six spots in the third round of the draft after a minority head coach’s second season with the team, and would move up 10 spots if it hires a minority candidate as its primary football executive. If it does both, it would jump up 16 spots.

There’s no disputing that the league has a diversity problem. While 70 percent of NFL players are black, only four teams have minority head coaches and two have minority general managers.

Many have questioned, though, how effective this new strategy would actually be in combating that issue.

While Lynn knows there are plenty of qualified minority candidates out there, and hopes they get their fair shot at a top job, he doesn’t think these changes are the right answer.

“I think that there are a lot of qualified African-American coaches right now that could be a head coach in this league, and I just pray that we do our due diligence and give these guys an opportunity,” Lynn said on CBS Sports Radio.

“There are some qualified applicants out there and they need an opportunity. I think this is, out of desperation, this is something that has been thrown out there. It is what it is.”

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is one of just four minority head coaches in the NFL.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is one of just four minority head coaches in the NFL. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Open up the coaching pool

In recent years, the general path to becoming a head coach in the league includes stops as either an offensive or defensive coordinator. That rule isn’t set in stone, of course, but it is an extremely common route.

Lynn, who is entering his fourth year as the head coach of the Chargers, only spent one season in his lengthy coaching career as an offensive coordinator. The rest were spent mainly as a running backs coach and assistant head coach.

If teams started looking for coaches outside of the coordinator positions, Lynn believes it can help the league’s minority problem significantly. After all, he said, not every coordinator is truly equipped to lead a franchise.

“I just think also we can open it up to more people. We’re stuck in this, ‘gotta be a coordinator’ [mindset],” Lynn said on CBS Sports Radio. “I understand the progression to become a head coach, but I really believe some of our natural leaders are assistant coaches or assistant head coaches. We tend to not go there. I believe becoming a head coach has nothing to do with being a coordinator. I think those are two different skill sets, being a leader of a franchise and calling plays. There are a lot of brilliant guys who can call plays but can’t lead a damn team.

“I just think if we open up the pool, more minorities will have opportunities and I think our chances will be better of becoming head coaches.”

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