For many years, the Steelers have been at the forefront of hiring minorities at all levels of the organization. Look no further than the franchise having the ‘Rooney Rule’ named after late owner Dan Rooney that requires all 32 NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for head coaching vacancies.
The franchise employs one of just three minority head coaches in longtime coach Mike Tomlin. And now the Steelers have taken that practice to another level with the hiring of Omar Khan, who is of Indian descent, as their general manager.
In recent years, the league has made a concerted effort to transform how many minority candidates are hired. At his introductory press conference on Friday, he spoke on what it means to him to be a minority in the position he finds himself now and the initiatives the league is pushing for.
“I hope we get to the point where we’re not even having those conversations, but I’m excited about what the league is doing and the initiatives,” he said. “Commissioner (Roger Goodell) and Art (Rooney II), there’s some really great things that they’re doing. And I think it’s headed in the right direction.”
GM Omar Khan on his emotions after being offered the position: pic.twitter.com/7T78gEPMij
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 27, 2022
From the league’s perspective, it probably could not be more thrilled about Khan being promoted to general manager within the Steelers’ ranks. Despite being born and raised in New Orleans, Khan holds Indian-American nationality. His father is from India, while his mother is from Honduras.
The 45-year-old has been with the Steelers for a large portion of his adult life. He understands what it takes to have success after being a part of two Super Bowl winning teams in 2005 and 2008. That ties into the importance of stressing that Khan earned this position through all of his dedicated work over the years. He rose above the 15 other candidates the Steelers had in the facility for interviews.
There are currently five other minority general managers in the league after the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings each hired one this offseason. Although the record for minority general managers was already broken with five, Khan becomes the sixth.
Whether or not Khan’s hiring signals a certifiable 180-degree change in hiring practices in the NFL remains to be seen. But for both him and league, it can only really be seen as a positive moving forward.