NFL May Revise Rooney Rule

The NFL will consider significant changes to the Rooney Rule, as Jim Trotter of writes. On Tuesday, the league will present two resolutions in hopes of further leveling the playing field for minority coaches and GMs. 

The first proposal would nix the league’s anti-tampering measure that allows teams to prevent assistant coaches from interviewing for other coordinator positions. Between the end of the regular season and March 1, teams would not have any right to block an interview. An offensive or defensive coordinator job is a stepping stone to becoming a head coach, so the NFL’s hope is that this would lead to more minority HCs around the league.

The other proposal would give “improved draft slots” to teams that hire minority HCs or “primary football executives,” Trotter hears. This, too, would be a major revamp to the Rooney Rule. As currently constructed, the Rooney Rule penalizes teams who do not interview minority candidates for their key positions. If ratified, this would incentivize teams to hire minority head coaches with a six-spot jump from their slotted third-round pick. Meanwhile, a team hiring a minority GM would move up ten spots. A team that does both would move up 16 spots in the third, potentially allowing an early third-round pick to turn into a mid-second-rounder.

Furthermore, a team’s fourth-round pick would climb up five spots if that coach or GM reaches Year 3. As Trotter notes, Steve Wilks was fired by the Cardinals after one year and Vance Joseph was fired after two years. They represent two of the four African-American head coaches hired in the last three years. Meanwhile, the league has just two GMs of color out of a possible 32.

The proposed rule changes could be beneficial for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, and many more minority coaches across the pro and collegiate ranks. The Rooney Rule has been in place since 2003, but Steelers owner Art Rooney II has been dissatisfied with the “10 or 12 minority coaches” hired in the last ~17 years.

In addition to the aforementioned proposals, the league will also pitch the following on Tuesday, per Trotter:

  • If a minority assistant accepts an OC/DC/ST coordinator job elsewhere, his former club would receive a Round 5 compensatory pick
  • If a minority coach or exec leaves to become a HC or GM, his previous team would receive a Round 3 comp pick
  • Any team that hires a minority QB coach would receive a fourth-round comp pick, if that coach is retained for more than one year.
  • The NFL may also require at least two minority candidates to be interviewed for HC vacancies while expanding the rule to include coordinator positions.

I think where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Rooney said earlier this year. “We need to take a step back and look at what’s happening with our hiring processes.”

Currently, the league has just four minority head coaches: Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Brian Flores (Dolphins), and Ron Rivera (Redskins). Out of five vacancies in the last cycle, Rivera was the only minority candidate to land an HC job. The Browns also hired Andrew Berry this past offseason; Berry and Chris Grier (Dolphins) represent the league’s only two black GMs.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the hiring process could change dramatically. Teams frequently prevent their best assistants and executives from pursuing outside opportunities; presumably, coaches and front office personnel of all backgrounds would be permitted to seek outside opportunities during the January–March 1 window.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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67 comments on “NFL May Revise Rooney Rule

  1. goldenmisfit

    Giving improve draft status to team to hire minority head coaches just scream racism. Here is an idea how about you just let these teams hire the best person for the job.

      • doug.daniel243

        Like I get what they are trying to do but this might be the worst idea I’ve ever heard. This is basically promoting hire a coach solely based on race and not on qualifications. Absolutely terrible idea from an absolutely terrible commissioner.

    • This a road they should not go down, it becomes token 1 year hires for teams tanking and it cheapens the process for dudes like bienemy who deserve a head coaching job…I think they should do away with the anti tampering period so every OC/DC can interview for head coaching positions during those hot 2 weeks for interviews after the season, but awarding draft picks for simply hiring a minority is the definition of racism…after a few years of minorities having 1 year runs on awful teams they will “revisit” this again for sure

    • ziggy13

      you really think a team is going to hire a guy to run the franchise to move up half a round?

  2. carlos15

    Do you think these guys want to be hired because the league had to stack the deck, I’d want to earn it or not get the job. Racism is always acceptable as long as it’s against the group everyone can agree deserves it. Just in this case it’s against white people. Same as it’s ever been.

  3. kevin

    the Rooney rule needs to go their is no place for it anymore . it’s to the point where your forcing teams to go and interview people even if they don’t fit their scheme or even if the team doesn’t think the person is a fit . it’s bs . teams want to win plane and simple they win they get more money so let the teams hire who they deem best fit . you will see the hiring will based on racism or anything like that . but as it is now they are segregating people into groups .

    • MoneyBallJustWorks

      how can you say there is no place? literally we see every year why it’s still necessary. Gruden best fit?

      I agree it’s not perfect and the draft boost idea is not the right Avenue but to say there is no place is crazy.

      • slapnuts

        Who says Gruden wasn’t the best fit, you? Own your own NFL team and you can hire whoever you want…

  4. SportsPoster

    Well this is stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Might as well use it to your advantage though. Hire a minority coach every year and fire at the end so you can move up in the draft every time.

  5. maximumvelocity

    So what all of you are saying is that a league that is majority minority in terms of players by a long shot is only hiring the best people for jobs leading those players. And that there is no racism or discrimination in that system, even though by percentages, it makes zero sense if it were an equitable system?

    • slapnuts

      The players pool isn’t an “equitable system”, why should the coaches pool be?

  6. MRWhitener

    LOL. Some of these are some of the easiest predict comments ever. Keep on keeping ‘Merica great, boys.

    The fact that the Rooney Rule even had to be put in place in the first place is terrible. Now the fact it has to be fixed again doubles down on why it’s STILL necessary.

    • bedbathandbiyombo

      Couldn’t agree more. Rooney Rule is not perfect, but some version of it is definitely necessary.

    • DarkSide830

      the Rooney rule is an artifact of the past and shows how behind the times the NFL is. Minorities dont need all these protections afforded for them anymore. most people out there hire the best guy regardless of the job and what race they are. putting more rules on place like this just encourages backlash and reignites racial tensions.

    • slapnuts

      You’re right. MLk would love the Rooney rule… judge not by the content of my character, judge me by my skin color.

      • bedbathandbiyombo

        you’re wrong about that. “King was a strong supporter of affirmative action. In “Why We Can’t Wait,” published in 1963, he argued that given the long history of American racism, blacks fully deserved “special, compensatory measures” in jobs, education and other realms. Four years later, in “Where Do We Go From Here?” he wrote: “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him.” link to

        • Ak185

          Just because the Rooney Rule was an effective and necessary mechanism when it was adopted does not mean that it is necessary and effective today. I would see your case more if there were concrete evidence of a team refusing a hire solely because of skin color, but absent that, the only argument is supposition.

          Unless we accept that teams in today’s league would deny a chance to a promising minority candidate just because he wasn’t white, then saying that race was the only factor in the outcome is just an accusation. These owners only care about one color, and it’s not black, brown, or white. Programs promoting minority candidates are necessary and need more attention. The NFL has promoted them, certainly, but they could use a public face to encourage more everyday players to try. It’s an easy argument to say that the management/coaching look is out of whack because the players are mostly black. But most of those players never go into coaching or management. The pools stay separate, which doesn’t make much sense.

          Flooding the field with promising candidates is a better way of guaranteeing minority hires than writing a rule about it. I mean, we talk about passed over candidates all the time but can name any this passed cycle other than Eric Bienemy (who I personally think deserved a shot somewhere, at the very least it appears he earned it)? More big names helps more than nameless outrage. I’d like to see more player coaching internships, honestly. that’s how Brian Leftwich got his current job, and if Tampa does well, he may be interviewing for a head coaching position in two or three years. Awarding draft status to minority hires is too far and also too easy to exploit.

        • slapnuts

          60 years ago he was right, with regards to affirmative action. Today, not so much. But the idea that character matters more than skin color transcends time. You should try taking that approach

          • bedbathandbiyombo

            AK – appreciate the comment and I agree with a lot of the points you made. Rooney Rule for sure isn’t perfect, and I think you’re spot on when you say we need more programs to promote the progress of minority coaches

            slapnuts – I’m glad you at least agree affirmative action was necessary at some point. I still think it’s necessary on almost every front in our society, but that’s where we disagree, and that’s okay! character meaning more than skin color and fighting for more opportunities for people of color aren’t mutually exclusive things. things have gotten better for people of color in this country, but still a long long way to go, my friend.

  7. nats3256

    Why dont they start looking at the racial breakdown stats of the players? if you take a black kicker you get to bump up 7 picks. Oh, you signed a white running back? that’s a 6 point jump in the draft. A guy from Spain bought the New York jets?- they get number one picks for life!

  8. jetup12

    Could offer to pay a significant bonus to that team but changing draft positions could affect the game on the field.

  9. TJECK109

    The only thing I like about any of this is compensation for execs taking other jobs and coordinators being able to take a lateral move.

  10. JJB0811

    So only the teams have to face the ‘Rooney rule’? Why not the league office? I’m betting the next 3-4 candidates to replace Goodell are old white guys. No problem there though.

    • DarkSide830

      as for the first proposal that one’s fine. i think the NFL’s current system relating to coaching moves is restrictive.

  11. phillyballers

    I don’t see any Asian representation among the Head Coaching ranks. I mean sure, most of the league is African American, but 100% of the Falcons place kickers are Asian.

  12. Connorsoxfan

    Belichick is going to have the most diverse coaching staff in history and still burn all his comp picks on 5 foot 6 white slot receivers

  13. afsooner02

    If this was the other way around it would be seen as quite possibly one of the most racist things ever created.

    One of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. If it passes I hope someone sues the nfl for discrimination.

  14. Appalachian_Outlaw

    The second part of this idea is garbage. People have touched on it, but teams in 3-5yr rebuilds are going to cycle through minority coaches for the picks. Those coaches are often just placeholders, anyway. Why wouldn’t they? How does that help the league or a minority coach?

    Just let teams hire the person they feel best for the job.

  15. dms0746

    When will be choose individuals based on merit and ability? Force feeding equality? What is that anyway? Beat out your competition or go home!

  16. crosseyedlemon

    Won’t the league need a rule to fight discrimination against women, the physically and mentally handicapped, homosexuals, and every other group that can’t get a fair shake in society?

  17. markdavisbarber

    The NFL owes the Raiders big time…

    1st Latino HC
    1st Latino\minority HC to win a Super Bowl
    1st Black HC
    1st Latino starting QB
    1st Latino\minority QB to win a Super Bowl
    1st Lady of football

    Roman Gabriel was the first overall pick in 1962 AFC draft by The Raiders but he played for the Rams (NFL pre merger) because they gave him $3,000 more dollars. (a lot in 1962)

    Al Davis will never get the recognition he deserves for not giving 2 $h!ts about race and just wanting to win.

    • crosseyedlemon

      The reality is that Al Davis was a very intelligent lone maverick who was never seen as a team player by other owners or Pete Rozelle. Al did great things for the Raiders but he never cared much whether the league as a whole benefited from his actions.

      • Ak185

        True, and while some of that is laudable, some is just combative for the sake of being combative. Mark Davis’ barber has a point though (and possibly the most secure job in America): Al definitely did not care about what his players looked like. He deserves credit for that.

  18. inkstainedscribe

    Freeing coordinators to interview early is a no-brained. Draft pick advantages? Maybe. Might make more sense from a competitive balance standpoint to award an extra pick at the end of the second round to a team that hires a minority HC who stays for 2+ years or a minority GM who’s there more than 3.

  19. HailRodgers12$

    Is no one else thinking this proposed rule will open the door for figurehead head coaches/GM’s, who have the title but not the authority?

    Hypothetically, [insert control freak owner name here] hires a black HC AND GM, but assigns himself as asst GM and a handful of his good ol boys as asst coaches..who report directly to him, and they make all the tough decisions.

    There’s nothing wrong with trying to get more minority coaches and front office people. The problem is the incentives aren’t really being put in place for THEM. They’re being put in place as PC for the league image, and in the long run this type of idea more likely benefits the team rather than the individual(s) it may hire.

  20. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    One of the worst ideas I have ever heard.

    Some people think you can fix “bad” racism with “good” racism.

    You cannot.

    Instead, you just perpetuate racism. And the circle keeps spinning.

    • Ak185

      While I am 100% against the measure, I don’t think we should make any assumptions on behalf of historical figures in any context. We can work through our own points without using them to validate us. Again, I agree that the proposal is bad, but I also don’t think we should make assumptions on behalf of others. Just my thoughts.

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