Jermaine Wiggins is not happy with the NFL.
The former Patriots and WEEI host appeared with Ken Laird and Nick Stevens on Saturday to voice his displeasure with the recent report that the NFL is planning on offering draft picks as incentives to teams who hire -- and keep for multiple years -- minority head coaches.
"This is a joke," Wiggins said. "If we have to get to this point where we have to give incentives to teams to hire minority coaches, especially black coaches, where are we? What is this 1950? In order for you to drink or use a restroom or a hotel, you have to make sure we fill in the quota every month, make sure we have two black customers. It’s stupid. The biggest problem is this: until you get people that are black in positions of power, which is general managers because I think that is the biggest problem … Those are the ones hiring the coaches and f you don’t have enough of those … It’s tough for guys to hire minority coaches when there are not a lot of minority GMs or directors of player/football operations. I just think it has to start. It has to start at the top.
"The league is probably like everybody else. It’s not about what you know it’s about who you know. And when you look at the league, guys that are GMs they’re hiring guys maybe they know or have relationships with or have had relationships with in the past. Maybe they’re hiring guys they might have some connection with."
The issue is a sensitive one for a league whose solution to the problem has been the implementation of "The Rooney Rule" which mandates teams to interview minorities for head coaching and senior football operations positions. While the rule has been in place since 2003, just three of the last 20 head coaching hires have been minorities. Also, just two of the NFL's 32 general managers are minorities.
"Does something really work if it only works every 10 years? I think that’s the biggest thing," Wiggins said. "You have this rule in place but it’s working once every 10 years where you might see an African-American coach being hired. That becomes the issue. I think when you look at the league and you look … I think everybody knows there is a problem. Seventy-six percent of your league is black and you start to look at your head coaches. The league knows there is a problem, but to fix that problem it starts with ownership and ownership works it way down. Until they do that all this other stuff is smoke and mirrors."