NFL changes rules for interviewing head coaching candidates

Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers

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As the NFL tries to push owners toward a more fair, comprehensive and inclusive process for interviewing and hiring head coaches, the league has made a couple of major adjustments to the hiring process, with the goal of giving all candidates more time to prepare for their interviews.

This week, the league issued a resolution that makes two important changes to the process.

First, teams may not interview a head coaching candidate who is employed by another NFL team until the third day after the conclusion of that team’s Week 18 game. This applies specifically to assistant coaches who work for teams that did not qualify for the playoffs or got a first-round bye. For teams playing in the wild card round, assistant coaches may not be interviewed until the following Tuesday (for Saturday and Sunday games) or Wednesday (for Monday game).

Second, in-person interviews with candidates employed by other teams are not permitted until after all wild-card games are over. Prior to the end of the wild card round, in-person interviews may occur only with candidates employed by the team hiring a head coach or candidates who are not currently employed by the NFL.

The resolution, which modifies the language of the league’s Anti-Manipulation Policy, applies through May 31, 2024.

It’s a far cry from the suggestion made on Super Bowl Sunday by Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy that the entire process stall until the playoffs are over. But it is a step in that direction. Perhaps more steps will be taken in that direction, until the league’s standard approach becomes not holding interviews until after the last piece of confetti falls in mid-February.

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