Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said on Wednesday the NFL's proposed minority hiring incentives are "definitely offensive."
The NFL proposed a slate of incentives for hiring minority coaches and executives on May 15. The plan would allow teams to jump six spots in the third round for hiring a minority head coach. A team would jump 10 spots by hiring a person of color as its general manager.
“It was offensive, definitely offensive,” Lewis told the Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston regarding the NFL's proposal. “It was like having Jim Crow laws.”
The league scrapped the incentive program, instead of issuing new guidelines for the Rooney Rule. Teams will now be required to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach openings, and at least one minority candidate for coordinator jobs.
“This will be a plus requiring more than one minority to be interviewed because it will cause them to take a deeper dive," Lewis told Preston. "This will allow more minorities more opportunities.”
There are currently three black head coaches in the NFL and just two black general managers. Washington head coach Ron Rivera and Dolphins coach Brian Flores are the NFL's lone hispanic head coaches. But despite the NFL's diversity issue in coaching and management roles, Lewis believes an incentive program isn't the correct route for the league.
“Draft picks are like gold,” Lewis said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As a head coach, no one wants to be hired or put in that position.”
Lewis coached the Bengals for 16 seasons from 2003-18. He has a 131–122–3 career record, guiding Cincinnati to the playoffs seven times.