The name Rooney is synonymous with the Pittsburgh Steelers as much as the Steelers are synonymous with the Rooneys. One of the oldest families on football, the Rooney clan is presided over the most successful organization of the Super Bowl era, which includes one of only two teams to have ever won the Super Bowl with three different head coaches. They are also the only team with six Super Bowl victories.
But while on-field success is critical to the Rooneys’ legacy, so is life off the field, beginning with the Steelers’ patriarch, ‘The Chief’, Art Rooney, who founded the team in 1933. His son, Dan Rooney, took his father’s works both on and off the field to another level for about a half century until his death.
That included the introduction of the Rooney Rule in 2003, which required that teams with a head coaching vacancy interview at least one minority candidate for the position. The rule was expanded in 2009 to include general manager jobs and equivalent positions in the front office.
The league’s Workplace Diversity Committee announced yesterday that the Rooney Rule would be expanding again in the future, “to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the NFL’s Rooney Rule”, which is named after Dan Rooney. His son, Art Rooney II, sits on the committee that worked on the expanded rule.
From the team’s website, the new modifications will consist of the following:
Clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club;
Clubs must continue best practice recommendation of considering multiple diverse candidates;
Clubs must maintain complete records and furnish to the league upon Commissioner’s request; and
If final decision-maker is involved in the beginning, he/she must be involved through the conclusion of the process.
While further expansion of the rule has been discussed for years, one might suspect that the push to do so now may have been motivated by the Oakland Raiders’ handling of the hiring of Jon Gruden last season, which, while it may not have violated the letter of the law, certainly violated the spirit of it.
I realize that there are some mixed to negative opinions about the rule not just on this site but in the Steelers community and the football community as a whole, but when there is a rule named after Dan Rooney, let’s face it, we are going to talk about it at some point when it’s newsworthy, and this certainly qualifies.