PALM BEACH, Fla. — To ensure more opportunities for diverse candidates, the NFL has added requirements on the hiring of offensive assistant coaches, and women in general.

The moves announced Monday at the owners meeting include adjustments to the Rooney Rule adopted in 2003 and amended frequently in attempts to enhance opportunities for people of color and women for nearly all league and team jobs.

Beginning this season, all 32 clubs must employ a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority to serve as an offensive assistant coach. The person will receive a one-year contract and work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience.

In recent years, head coaches have predominantly had offensive backgrounds. The pipeline for minorities on that side of the ball is lacking, as Steelers owner Art Rooney II reiterated Monday.

“We recognize we have seen progress on some fronts,” said Rooney, chairman of the league’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, “but we still have a way to go on other fronts.”

The NFL saw an increase in the number of people of color in all coaching positions from 35% in the 2020 season to 39% last season. There was an all-time high increase in defensive coordinators to 15, up by two; an increase in minority GMs (five to seven), and assistant GMs (three to six).


Teams will receive league funding toward the coach’s salary for up to two years.

Overall, including women in all Rooney Rule requirements is designed to address under-representation of women in key football positions. The league believes this will “encourage the further identification and development of women candidates and the ability to provide them additional opportunity to interview for open positions.”

A total of 12 women coaches at the start of the 2021 season was an all-time high.

Early, Mike Tomlin said he did not hire Brian Flores as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers out of sympathy for the former Miami Dolphins head coach.

Tomlin, who like Flores is African American, did so because Flores is “a good coach.” That Flores had sued the NFL and three teams – the Dolphins, Giants and Broncos – claiming racist hiring practices, did not dissuade the longtime Steelers coach in any way, Tomlin said.

COLTS: The Indianapolis Colts hired John Fox as a senior defensive assistant. Fox led Carolina and Denver to conference championships before losing in Super Bowls.


“This was a role I really wanted to add,” Colts Coach Frank Reich said. Fox will work with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

DRAFT: The NFL awarded the 2024 draft to Detroit. The city was a finalist for the 2022 event, which will be hosted next month in Las Vegas after the 2020 draft, originally planned for Las Vegas, was held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

49ERS: Nearly two months after Jimmy Gaorppolo seemingly bid farewell to his 49ers’ tenure, he remains on the roster, and General Manager John Lynch seems fine with that.

Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery thwarted any trade talks to move him off the roster while quarterback vacancies filled up around the league this month, Lynch confirmed.

Garoppolo is entering the final year of his contract at a $24 million salary.

Lynch does not foresee cutting Garoppolo to merely free up salary-cap space, noting: “He’s too good a player. I don’t foresee that. Jimmy will be playing for us or playing for somebody else. He’s too good a player not to be.”


Lynch did not rule out bringing him back even though Trey Lance figures to take over the starting role after sitting behind Garoppolo most of his rookie season last year. Also, Nate Sudfeld was recently signed to a $2 million deal commensurate for a backup quarterback.

BILLS: The proposed $1.4 billion new home for the Buffalo Bills comes with a record $850 million taxpayer price tag in an agreement reached to secure the franchise’s future in the region for the next 30-plus years.

Gov. Kathy Hochul completed seven months of negotiations by announcing an agreement preserving the Bills’ presence in her hometown, while also calling it a deal that “made sense” in the return on public investment.

New York will commit $600 million in funds in a deal reached in time for Hochul to include it in the state budget, which by law must be approved by Friday. Erie County will commit $250 million toward the project, while eventually relinquishing control to a newly established state-appointed commission.

The taxpayer commitment falls below the 73% share the state and county had previously committed to the Bills to build, maintain and upgrade the the team’s existing facility, now called Highmark Stadium, which opened in 1973. But the $850 million public burden is considered the largest ever for an NFL facility.

The NFL and the Bills agreed to commit $550 million in financing, with team owners Terry and Kim Pegula’s share coming in at $350 million for a facility projected to open in time for the 2026 season. The Bills would be responsible for covering any construction over-runs under the proposed deal.


The Buffalo Bills will retain Ryan Bates by matching the four-year qualifying offer the offensive lineman signed with the Chicago Bears, GM Brandon Beane said.

Beane made the announcement four days after Bates signed the Bears’ offer sheet. The Bills had five days to match the offer or lose Bates without compensation.

The third-year player was a restricted free agent, whose rights the Bills retained by tendering him a one-year, $2.433 million contract two weeks ago.

JAGUARS: Brandon Linder was one of the best centers in the NFL when healthy. That wasn’t the case nearly as often as Linder or the Jacksonville Jaguars would have liked.

Linder announced his retirement after eight injury-filled seasons, a decision that came once the Jaguars decided he had played his last down for the franchise.

Linder spent more than a week contemplating his future before announcing on Instagram he’s hanging up his cleats, saying “it is at this time I have decided to close this chapter of my life and retire from the NFL.”


“I am grateful to be able to fulfill my goal of retiring a lifetime Jaguar,” he wrote. “Jacksonville will remain my home. I am excited to chase new dreams and I’m looking forward to all of the great things to come in the future.”

HALL OF FAME: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is going back a few decades for its headline act at the Concert for Legends.

Journey will take the stage on Aug. 6, hours after the inductions of the class of 2002, which have been switched to a Saturday afternoon.

Being inducted this year as modern-era players are Sam Mills, Bryant Young, LeRoy Butler, Tony Boselli, Richard Seymour. Coach Dick Vermeil, contributor Art McNally, and senior player Cliff Branch also will be enshrined.

HARD KNOCKS: The Detroit Lions will be the team in the spotlight during the preseason for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series.

The five-episode series will debut Aug. 9. It is the 17th edition of the Sports Emmy-winning series.


Camera crews will shoot most of the show at the Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, Michigan, and will chronicle Coach Dan Campbell entering his second season in Detroit. The episodes will be narrated by Liev Schreiber, marking his 16th season with the show.

Hard Knocks launched with the Ravens in 2001, followed by the Cowboys in 2002. It resumed in 2007 with the Chiefs, followed by the Cowboys (2008), Bengals (2009), Jets (2010), Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Falcons (2014), Texans (2015), Rams (2016), Buccaneers (2017), Browns (2018), and Raiders (2019). For 2020, the show focused on both Los Angeles franchises, and last year Dallas made its third appearance.

CARDINALS: Offensive lineman Will Hernandez agreed to a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

The 6-foot-3, 332-pound Hernandez played the past four seasons with the New York Giants, which is the team that drafted him in 2018 in the second round out of UTEP.

Hernandez played in 62 games during his time with the Giants and started all 17 games last season at right guard. He’ll be a strong candidate to have the same role with the Cardinals.

Hernandez will be reunited with Sean Kugler, who was the head coach at UTEP during Hernandez’s college career and is now the Cardinals’ run game coordinator/offensive line coach.


TITANS: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to propose $500 million in bonds in the state budget to help fund a new covered Tennessee Titans stadium envisioned for Nashville, two sources confirmed to The Associated Press.

The two people are familiar with the details of the governor’s funding amendment and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the governor’s budget amendment has not been released. It’s scheduled for a public discussion Tuesday in front of Tennessee lawmakers, who would also need to approve of the plan to authorize state bonds.

The funding would fill in one piece of the puzzle for the Titans, who have gone from trying to modernize the existing Nissan Stadium to working on plans for a new stadium right next door after renovation costs more than doubled to $1.2 billion. Nashville Mayor John Cooper has lowered expectations about any potential funding from the metro government, saying earlier this month that “fundamentally, the city is not in the entertainment or stadium business itself.”

VIKINGS: The Minnesota Vikings signed three free agents, including former Miami offensive lineman Jesse Davis in their attempt to upgrade the interior blocking.

The Vikings also signed ex-Denver cornerback Nate Hairston and re-signed cornerback Tye Smith.

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