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Volume 26 No. 178
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Rooney Rule Changes Could Be Coming To Increase Minority Hiring

Steelers President Art Rooney II said the NFL will "look at a lot of things" in relation to possible changes to the Rooney Rule, as the current minority hiring process in the league is "not where we want to be." Rooney: "We need to take a step back and look at what's happening with our hiring processes." Rooney noted small changes were made to the rule last year, in which outside head coaching candidates were required to be interviewed for vacant positions. Rooney: "Obviously we have to look at what we can do differently now, and perhaps even expand the Rooney Rule into some of the lower levels, perhaps the coordinator level, just to make sure that the minority opportunities are there." Rooney noted after the rule was initially created in '03, there was a "period there where we did see an increase in minority hiring," but that trend "seems to have reversed itself, particularly in the last few years." Rooney said the NFL's Workplace Diversity Committee will "review this past season's hiring cycle and make sure we understand what went on and talk to the people involved,"including owners, management and coaches who were interviewed ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 1/14).

COACHING UNIFORMITY: In DC, Sally Jenkins writes the lack of minority coaches in the NFL "isn't just the fault of white team owners," as that is "too easy." Jenkins: "Less easy to speak aloud is the deep racial bias among a generation of head coaches who have made a habit of promoting younger white replicants of themselves." The "tokenism" with which owners have treated the Rooney Rule is "superficial compared to the soul-deep failure by coaches to promote their black colleagues and place them in the job pipeline." That there are three black head coaches in the league in '20 "falls squarely on a professional clique that has choked off the candidate pool in favor of friends, sons and sons of friends." NFL owners "can and should be held accountable" for the fact that four of five head coaching vacancies in this cycle went to white men, but owners are "not the ones choosing staffs." Between February '18 and February '19, NFL head coaches hired 15 offensive coordinators. Fourteen of them were white, while only one job went to a man of color, when Chiefs coach Andy Reid promoted Eric Bieniemy (WASHINGTON POST, 1/15).

FLAWED SYSTEM? The Fritz Pollard Alliance said the NFL's "abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking level of NFL management" is the result of a "flawed system" that needs to change. ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert noted the organization "called on the league to 'develop specific diversity action plans to improve diversity in all aspects of management.'" The Rooney Rule "requires every team to interview a qualified minority candidate for head-coaching jobs, but it does not affect the hiring decisions of owners" (ESPN.com, 1/13).

PRESSURE BUILDING: PFT's Mike Florio said nothing "gets a business to alter the way it does business than the threat of litigation, or the reality of litigation," and the "reality for the NFL is, they're never going to face litigation for this." But it is "obvious from the numbers that something is going on." Florio: "The owners are just fans who have enough money to own teams. They don't know what's going on." But they are "part of the problem." However, without the "threat of litigation, things aren't going to change" ("PFT," NBCSN, 1/15).