The Rooney Rule is a touchy subject all around the NFL for some people, even for members of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base, after which the name comes, from the team’s former president and owner, Dan Rooney.
The Rooney Rule has been in place for a couple of decades now and makes it a prerequisite that teams interview minority candidates while filling vacancies at the head coaching position. The rule was later expanded to include high-ranking members of the front office.
One can argue, however, just how much of an impact it has had, not only over the course of the past couple of decades, but also in recent years, especially in light of a couple of significant hires in which at least the spirit, if not the wording of the rule was violated, as in the Oakland Raiders’ hiring of Jon Gruden.
The hiring of minority candidates not only for head coaching positions but also in key roles below that level, particularly on offense, have been scarce, and as a result of this observation, Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked to address it yesterday.
“We don’t look at the success or failure of the Rooney Rule in one year increments. We’ve had the Rooney Rule around for nearly 20 years. It’s had an extraordinary impact on the NFL. Over 20 clubs hired minority coaches since that period of time, he argued.
“It’s also been a signal for other industries throughout the world to adopt a Rooney Rule to change their organizations. And I think it has. It’s created opportunity. It’s given people an opportunity that haven’t had them in the past. That is at the core of what we’re looking for”.
In evaluating his remarks, of course, he is ultimately right. The rule is designed to give more minorities the opportunity to be candidates for prominent coaching positions. The logical extension of that is for more minorities to fill those positions, but, well, it doesn’t always happen that way.
Goodell did say that the league is interested in helping to address the concerns of those who believe that the rule needs to be strengthened either in its scope or in its enforcement, and to do so, the aim is to strengthen the pool of minority candidates.
“One of the ideas we are going to focus on is going to be what we are calling a quarterback summit, which we will do in June with Morehouse College”, he said. “It’s something we think we can help train, give opportunity, manage, and hopefully do some mentoring to advance those coaches so they do get that opportunity”.
As of this moment, there are only three minority head coaches, those being the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, and the Carolina Panthers’ Ron Rivera, but the Miami Dolphins are expected to hire Brian Flores following the Super Bowl. Minority head coaches Marvin Lewis, Steve Wilks, Todd Bowles, Hue Jackson, and Vance Joseph were all fired or mutually parted ways with their teams since the start of the 2018 season.