NFL Plans To Expand Rooney Rule After No Minority Hires Among GMs, Head Coaches
The NFL “plans to expand the league's Rooney Rule in the aftermath of zero minority hires" among the 15 head coach and GM positions this offseason, according to Jason Cole of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources said that the league is “hoping to add" team president, assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator to the list of positions that will "require a minority candidate be interviewed.” The NFL also is “hoping to restart its annual coaching and management symposium program to help train assistant coaches and staff members on the duties" that go with head coach and GM positions (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/18). NFL Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Gulliver in a statement said the league has “already started the process of developing a plan for additional steps that will better ensure more diversity and inclusion on a regular basis in our hiring results” (NEWSDAY.com, 1/19). NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith in response to Gulliver’s statement said, “My first question is I would be interested in knowing what they expected.” PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote, “That’s a great question. What level of minority hiring would have transformed the NFL’s disappointment to satisfaction?” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/19). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote the Rooney Rule “failed miserably in this hiring cycle.” Eight teams “interviewed minority candidates,” and eight teams “hired white coaches.” The rule was “a bust in the front office as well: Seven teams hired new general managers, seven teams hired white general managers.” Gulliver in his statement said that teams “complied with the Rooney Rule.” But he added the hiring results this year “have been unexpected and reflect a disappointing lack of diversity” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/20).
CHANGE IS NEEDED: In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote the NFL is “rightfully embarrassed because not one minority candidate landed one of the eight head coach openings.” Encouraging more minorities in ownership and exec positions “would certainly help” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "The Rooney Rule is not only about hiring African-American head coaches, but training young African-Americans to be head coaches. How is that working for the league? It is not working out well enough. There needs to be a panel brought together of both blacks and whites involved in the NFL and outside the NFL to study what more the NFL can do.” The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said the issue “has got to be on the agenda of the owners’ meetings.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “talks about concussions and talks about Bountygate," but he needs to "sit these owners down and say, ‘Look at what’s happening. Look at yourselves. Look at what you’re doing here.’ It all starts at the owners’ meetings” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/18). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Goodell “should take a very active role in this and use friendly persuasion." Kornheiser: "He should single out owners, he should make a list and he should say, ‘We recommend the following three to five people.’” But ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the NFL “seems to have different agendas right now, and diversity at the coaching ranks and GM ranks doesn’t seem to be among them” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/18). In New Jersey, Mark Eckel writes, “In 2013 it is easier for an African-American to become president of the country than it is for him to become a head coach in the NFL.” Eckel: “I am 100 percent in favor of hiring the right man for the job, the most qualified man for the job no matter the color of his skin, but in a league where over 65 percent of the players are one color, how are there less than 10 percent of the head coaches with the same color?” (TRENTON TIMES, 1/21).
SHOULD LITIGATION BE USED? PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Florio wrote NFL teams “should address this problem because it’s the right thing to do.” They will address the problem "when they perceive a significant threat to their bottom line from public pressure or litigation.” Florio: “Here’s hoping they choose to do the right thing before they have to” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/18). But ESPN's Bomani Jones said, “You have to wonder if the only thing that’s going to make hiring changes in the NFL is some sort of legal action" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/18).
NAMESAKE'S THOUGHTS: NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Steelers Chair Emeritus Dan Rooney “believes this year's shutout was an anomaly.” Rooney “believes in the Rooney Rule, saying that the minority candidates didn't sell themselves like in previous years.” He also “pointed out that the rule is designed to ensure that minority candidates have interviews and fair shots at these jobs -- nothing more.” Rooney: "Let me say this: In all eight cases, we have very excellent compliance. Every team followed procedures, interviewed minority candidates. From that standpoint, we were pleased. As far as, now people saying they didn't get the job. Maybe this year, there weren't the candidates they thought there would be so they would get the jobs.” Rooney added, “I think what we have is definitely a workable thing. We do have to come up with an idea to try to help people to get to be candidates. But it does get down to the coaches building a staff." Rooney also “would like to ramp up training methods to put minority candidates in such positions,” which will “provide owners and GMs with a broader look” (NFL.com, 1/20).