NFL To Consider Changes To Rooney Rule

The NFL’s Rooney Rule again drew scrutiny during a hiring period that featured one of the five head coaching positions filled by a minority candidate, and the league will examine the rule.

In place since 2003, the rule mandates NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for HC positions. In 2019, that resulted in just one of the eight available coaching jobs going to a minority candidate (Miami’s Brian Flores). This year, Ron Rivera‘s Redskins hire doubled as the only non-white coach to fill one of the five vacancies.

I think where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Steelers owner Art Rooney II said, via’s Steve Wyche. “We need to take a step back and look at what’s happening with our hiring processes.”

The Browns, Cowboys, Giants and Panthers opted for white candidates during this year’s coaching cycle. In 2018, eight teams employed minority head coaches. That number is down to three, the same number as when the Rooney Rule was created in 2003.

As it appears right now, there just weren’t very many minorities in the process at all this year. And I’m not sure why that is,” Rooney said. “It doesn’t need to be that way. We have about one-third of the coaches in the National Football League are from the minority communities. That’s really not a bad pipeline. And so, the question is, why aren’t more of those people getting interviews? Why aren’t more of those people advancing through the process?

Rooney also discussed the prospect of expanding the rule to include coordinator positions, which would seemingly help form a clearer path to HC positions. Giants co-owner John Mara also expressed support for going in this direction.

We’re obviously using the Rooney Rule for the head coaching candidates, but I think we may have to use the rule for the feeder positions, especially on the offensive side of the ball because that’s where so many of the head coaches come from,” Mara said, via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “We talked in December on the Workplace Diversity Committee about feeding the pipeline further. I can tell you: This is a real concern of the commissioner and the league.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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49 comments on “NFL To Consider Changes To Rooney Rule

  1. sufferfortribe

    When race is made more important than character, nothing good comes from it.

  2. I think the league should abolish the rule and take a modern day approach to league wide hiring practices. Including the front offices. We hear so much about the Rooney rule, what is the composition of league wide positions? Per coaching staff, front office positions, etc.? I think the league owes a guy like Eric Bieniemy an apology for being the most interviewed candidate over the past few cycles, but I don’t think was really considered for the head coaching position primarily based on the known influence of Andy Reid on the KC offense. He became the guy you interviewed to satisfy the Rooney rule when there were no better candidates than him over the previous couple cycles (with the exception of Flores).

    • jorge78

      This is a hard problem to fix. Peter King had some
      interesting ideas. But still a hard problem…..

    • DarkSide830

      if no one wanted Bieniemy they wouldnt have interviewed him. why would all teams be interviewing the same guy to satisfy the rule. clearly there was real interest.

  3. thebfr21

    Why don’t you take interviews for head-coaching candidates that are smart… Good coaches… And good motivator is not the color of their skin

    • kylegocougs

      How many white coaches have failed? Far more than black. The NFL wants and needs to avoid the plantation look where all coaches and executives are white and most players are black.

      • 700Level

        How many black coaches have failed? A lot. The Rooney rule is absurd. Do you really think that any owner would not hire someone they think would give them a winner just b/c of the person’s skin color? Please. There are black coaches on every staff in the league. There are black coaches on every staff of every major college football team. You now have black coaches at major universities in the South; you have black (and Hispanic) coaches who have been hired (and failed) in multiple jobs. Anyone who thinks this is still like the 1960’s or something is clueless.

        • goldenmisfit

          I really hope this is a joke because if it is not this is very ignorant. You cannot force an owner to hire a head coach he does not want.

      • cubsfanbudman1908

        Every coach fails at some point. Your argument is weak.

        Bottom line… hire a coach based on merit, regardless of skin color.

    • lmcpeeks

      Based on the stats in the article, the Rooney rule hasn’t worked as intended. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad rule. Take a look at the Judge hire. He was far from the leading candidate at any point but he killed the interview and when other coaches took other jobs the a giants

      • lmcpeeks

        Happily hired him. When anyone regardless of race, sex, etc is given an opportunity that is never a bad thing. Forcing hires or trying to have some sort of Affirmative Action is different and is far more debatable. just giving someone an opportunity? How is that a bad thing? Out in the real world Small minority, women and veteran owned businesses are given all kinds of opportunities, do you have a problem with veterans being given an opportunity?
        We’re not taking people off the street just because of their race and saying you have an opportunity to be a coach. We’re taking people that are qualified and giving them an opportunity. 9 out of 10 people on here got a job at some point because someone gave us an opportunity, we knew someone or we were a vet, or ….

  4. ghostrobot

    Expand the Rooney rule to require 3 black candidates per coaching and coaching assistants position and require one team a year to hire a black head coach, a black GM, and a black QB.

    I wonder why nobody asks the question why there are no black owners

      • sufferfortribe

        He probably doesn’t have a dog. I’m betting a cat or a bunny rabbit.

        • joparx

          Giving someone something because of the color of their skin is just as racist as not giving them something because of the color of their skin, treating someone different just because the color of their skin is racism it doesn’t matter, it means you can’t look past skin color and any person who truly believes skin color dictates anything whatsoever at all is the lowest form of human intellect

  5. king beas

    If a team wants a black coach do they have to interview a white coach? Not trying to be harsh but if a team has a certain guy in mind why does it matter what race regardless of black or white the team should be able to choose who they want

  6. richard dangler

    Rooney Rule is racist. It’s literally judging one by the color of their skin over the content of their character.

    • joparx

      Amen, give the best guy the job, stop parading guys like Bienemy to interviews so they can be like look guys I’m so progressive I’m giving this guy a shot even though he’s black…it’s so racist and while it means well it’s demeaning and disrespectful

  7. amk3510

    The Rooney rule isn’t the issue, team incompetence is. I’d be pissed if my team passed on Eric Bieniemy for Zac Taylor, Matt Rhule, Kliff Kingsbury, Kevin Stefanski or Joe Judge.

    • Dodgethis

      Why? Bieniemy is an unproven entity just as they are. Without being in the interview you have no idea why those guys were hired over bieniemy, yet you assume it’s racist. Yet, you can’t see that you are the problem?

      • amk3510

        I said it was pure incompetence not racism, learn reading comprehension. Guys get hired for breathing near Sean Mcvay. The Chiefs OC for the last 2 years is more than qualified to be a head coach even if he didn’t call plays. Arguing otherwise is just dumb.

    • DarkSide830

      Bieniemy is just as inexperienced as a head coach as these others. why exactly is it egregious that any of these others were chosen over him. (especially Rhule)

      • amk3510

        Stefanski was a worse OC. I have a hard time seeing how he is a better guy to coach than him and I hate the Rooney Rule

  8. greg7274

    This Rooney Rule is not only ridiculous and borderline racist itself… but, to me, is insulting to minorities.
    If I were Bienemy, I’d be more upset with having my time wasted with pointless “interviews” the last few weeks… than I would be with not getting hired. I mean, it’s not like he wouldnt have rather been working on his current job, had he known this was the reality. He’s kinda had a lot on his plate in KC the last few weeks.
    I’m a Chiefs fan and I’m comfortable saying his race has zero to do with not being hired.
    I’d guess he hasnt been an inferior candidate either, or a bad interview.
    I’d say teams realize the KC offense is Andy Reid’s results, not Eric’s.
    Bienemy may do most of the playcalling, but it’s Reid who designs the plays and stipulates in what scenarios they are to be called.
    Look no further than Philadelphia and Chicago for proof. Are Doug Pederson’s or Matt Nagy’s offenses even half as explosive as KC’s?
    I’m sure that’s what teams find out first in the interviews, and then extrapolate the results in Philly and Chicago to their team if they took a shot at Bienemy.
    NFL teams are billion dollar entities, people.
    Owners smart enough to amass the fortune it costs to buy and run an NFL team are not going to pass on the best coaching option because they’re feeling a little racist.
    Newsflash, anyone stupid enough to still think that way probably doesnt stand a chance at being a tenth as successful as today’s NFL owners had to be in their business careers. People dont do business with that someone that closeminded… it’s a liability.

    • greg7274

      I’d add…
      I’d hate see Eric leave, but it might improve his resume if he made a lateral move to OC another NFL team, or coach college again. If the results are similar to KC… he’d have his pick of nfl openings in a year or two.
      The 3 teams that hired white coaches this year, could be sure their hires were the minds behind the offense at their previous job.
      Rhule definitely ran the offense at Baylor.
      McCarthy was literally fired in GB because he allowed no one else to have input into the offense, including Rodgers.
      Stefanksi was under a defense-minded HC in Minnesota. It’s debatable how successful that offense was… but they did have a few key injuries… and it IS the Brownies that picked him. They probably like inconsistency.

    • Dodgethis

      All laws and rules involving race are by definition racist, and coincidentally are all anti white.

  9. goldenmisfit

    Here is the issue this is not racism but aside from Mike Tomlin and Tony Dungee how many African-American head coaches have worked out? They do not have the best track record and that is just a statistical fact. Also if you look at some of the African-American head coaches that have been hired as of late such as Wilkes and Jackson they were coaching the worst teams in the league with the worst records. Hard to say it is just a coincidence and there have been more than that to back up this claim. The fact of the matter is this you cannot force a team to hire a black head coach and there really is nothing they can do to change this rule the only thing you might be able to add to it is saying that each team must have at least one minority on their coaching staff that’s about it.

  10. beyou02215

    Wins and losses have no race. Having said that, I have no problem with this rule. “Affirmative action” is supposed to be used to ensure a diverse and qualified pool of applicants. That is both noble and legal. Once race is forced into the actual hiring decision itself, however, that is when it becomes unconstitutional/illegal. Of course, institutions have not always used it that way (i.e. allowed it to dictate/influence the actual hire/selection) and the courts have equally been inconsistent on the issue but it appears that the Rooney Rule is being used correctly.

    • Dodgethis

      Nothing Noble about laws that identify and reward or punish people based in the color of their skin. The most qualified, best candidate should get the job. Sorry if that means we don’t have any black coaches or executives. Maybe don’t wonder why your team is terrible when they make hires based on skin color?

      • beyou02215

        I don’t think you understood my post. AA cannot influence the actual hiring decision; it can only work to bring you a qualified, diverse applicant pool. Thus, the most qualified person does get the job. And once again, institutions have blurred this line, making how AA is applied unlawful.

  11. crosseyedlemon

    I always enjoy watching the NFL tap dance when it’s own hypocrisy is exposed.

  12. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    Racism is bad.

    But, it can’t be fixed with more racism, even if it’s proponents believe that their “good” racism will fix the “bad” racism. Doesn’t work.

  13. krillin89

    Well the key word here is “minority”. From a per math standpoint, of course there will be less minorities than majorities. However, I can understand a concern. For as many minority athletes that have been through the league, you would think more of them would be coaches.

    • DarkSide830

      better question is who does the NFL consider a “minority?” do they look into your personal background and use a formula to calculate whether or not you are a minority. that’s one of the biggest issues with the issue, even if one thinks it should exist at all.

  14. The Ghost of Bobby Bonilla

    This rule is insane. We are in the year 2020. Enough with the race preferences, which only drive wedges between people.

    Following this Rooney Rule to its logical conclusion shows that African Americans, who comprise 13% of the population, comprise 73% of NFL rosters. Seems to me that the NFL needs special tryouts only for white people who are underrepresented on rosters. Asians too.

    That’s racist? Yep. And so is the Rooney Rule. Enough with this nonsense.

  15. bostonbob

    Enough with the Rooney Rule. These owners are for the most part businessmen who made their money. Does anyone think they, aside from Dallas, won’t hire the best coach to lead their teams? What’s next, hiring a woman to keep the women happy.

  16. gosodpoodles

    What a joke. The rule is a joke and I’d be pissed if I was given an interview just because a business had to interview someone of my race in order to put a check-mark in a box. Why has this become a big deal? Move on already.

  17. Potpot106

    We don’t have enough white players in this league. Teams should be forced to have an equal amount of white players and minority players on their teams. This should especially be the case in basketball too

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