NFL To Make Changes To Rooney Rule

The changes proposed to the NFL’s hiring procedure will still be discussed at the virtual owners meetings Tuesday, but the league unveiled significant adjustments to its Rooney Rule on Monday.

Going forward, teams must interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching positions, Tom Pelissero of reports (on Twitter). This is up from the league mandating one such interview for each HC job. Additionally, teams must interview at least one minority candidate for coordinator jobs, Pelissero adds.

In addition to the changes to the rule pertaining to coaching staffs, the league will tweak its hiring procedure for front offices. Franchises must open their senior-level executive jobs — including team president positions — to minority and/or female candidates (Twitter link via Pelissero). The league office must abide by this change as well for its senior-level openings. This will likely clear paths for more women breaking into executive positions.

Tuesday, the owners will vote on a controversial measure that would incentivize teams hiring minority candidates by bettering their draft positions. But today’s changes still mark a major adjustment to the Rooney Rule, which has been in place since 2003. The GM part of the rule has existed since 2009. Monday’s changes did not require owner approval.

For coordinator searches, this will create more avenues for minority candidates. White coaches dominate the current offensive coordinator landscape, with only two minorities (the Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy and the Buccaneers’ Byron Leftwich) holding OC gigs. Over the past three years,

While the draft-related proposals may have longer odds to pass, NBC Sports’ Peter King expects the measure to prevent teams from blocking position coaches to interview for coordinator jobs to pass. This would open the door to teams losing more position coaches from their staffs but also lead to upward mobility.

The NFL has received criticism for several years; it’s intensified after the past three hiring periods. Twenty HC openings emerged since 2018; only three went to minority candidates. Mandating two minority prospects interview would ensure more meetings take place, thus lengthening teams’ hiring processes in most cases. Currently, four HCs (Mike Tomlin, Anthony Lynn, Brian Flores and Ron Rivera) are minorities. Meanwhile, the league has just two GMs of color (Chris Grier, Andrew Berry).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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53 comments on “NFL To Make Changes To Rooney Rule

  1. RedsFan1990

    Call me crazy, but something tells me this won’t satisfy the whiners that think jobs should be given to people based off the color of their skin and not merit.

    • rotofool

      Comments like this are instructive since you are getting it backwards. It’s not that non qualified will suddenly get jobs. The problem is that white owners and executives have a racial bias which discount the abilities of minority candidates. There are many qualified but few get real chances, which should be embarrassing not only for the league, but also it’s fans that cheer for a league in which 70% of the players are non-white.

      • 12isbetter

        Do you have any actual proof of your racist claims or are you just spouting nonsense.

          • 12isbetter

            I wasn’t referring to you. I was referring to the person replying to you that was calling the “white owners” racists. Apparently being white and hiring the best candidate is racist. I could accept this rule if a certain number of races had to be interviewed. As is, no “white” person ever has to be interviewed again! Creating a racist rule to thwart racism is rather ironic, but it happens daily in this country.

            • RedsFan1990

              Gotcha. These websites should update their comments sections so you don’t get emails notifications if the person isn’t actually replying to you. Haha

      • veritu

        If such a bias really existed, rosters wouldn’t be comprised of 70% non-white players. Instead, the owners and execs select personnel, both players and staff, who they feel can best help the team succeed.

      • carlos15

        So just assuming all white owners are racist is the basis for your whole argument.

      • kevin

        the Rooney rule needs to get the kick to the curve. it’s not needed anymore . all its doing its making a divide. also u will have more people that interview and some won’t even be really considered because the team have their top choice already on their mind but it’s OK when the top choice is minority lol double standards. it should be hire the best candidate period

    • yoyo137

      There are a lot of bad white coaches. Why not give some people of color an opportunity? White coaches have gotten the benefit of the doubt forever

      • carlos15

        So as long as it’s detrimental to certain people who deserve it, than it’s justified. That’s what racism is.

  2. mrshyguy99

    i think the new rule would only make this worse. a team would only hire said coach so they get this pick. i dont see a way they will fix this. just gotta let it play out.

    • gmmayock

      Was want to win. They are not going to hire an unqualified person to gain 6 spots in the 3rd round.

      • hOsEbEeLiOn

        Tanking teams would. You kidding? They’d make up some gimmick job title like supreme executive football God senior position, fill it, and pay him 90k a year just to move up couple spots.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        One could argue Miami started the year with a handful of unqualified starting position players to gain draft position. These teams tanking aren’t going to have qualms using the same strategy on the sidelines.

        You might not think 6 spots in the 3rd rd. seems like much, but you never know how it’ll play out.

  3. manos

    So teams will get improved picks based on hiring a minority HC or GM? This seems ripe for abuse to me. If a team planning on tanking or knowing they’re not going to have a winning season hires a minority HC or GM for a single season they can not only blame their poor season on that person but they can get a better pick?

      • manos

        They still get it. This isn’t a solution. Rules like this don’t force owners to change who they are at heart.

    • jkoms57

      Well it takes away from the feeling of earning a job.

      Did I earn this job or did a team hire me to get a draft pick?

      Moving backwards with this one.

    • There are myriad examples of both liberalism and conservativism not working. Thanks for pointing out the obvious and needlessly bringing politics into it.

      • carlos15

        Liberalism has failed in every state and city it is applied to, this is no different. It’s not politics when it’s being applied to a sport. The point is it will fail there too.

    • hOsEbEeLiOn

      Yeah how dare teams put education, experience, and general fit when searching for people to run the business before things like skin color, race, and gender. How silly of them.

      If the best candidate is black who cares hire them. If the best candidate is a woman who cares hire them. If the best candidate is a white male with an ivy league degree and has been recommended greatly by other teams he worked for who cares. Hire them.

      This is the first step towards the NFL implementing quotas where x percent must be female or a minority.

      • Steven Juris

        The first requirement to be an executive in the NFL has been white male. That’s all they look at. Keep in mind 70% of the players aren’t white men.

        • hOsEbEeLiOn

          Front office jobs require degrees of some sort.

          Many NFL players either don’t graduate with a degree or their degree is just a quota filler like leisure studies. Very few graduate with an applicable degree to hold a front office job. But continue spreading nonsense.

  4. Ramon Garciaparra

    Look I’m a pretty open minded guy but this is really just wrong. Every time a person of color gets a job because of the color of their skin another person who might be more qualified does not get that job. That is just wrong. If they want persons of color to become head coaches then they should start hiring people of color as interns and over time build experience and credentials to become head coaches or general managers. But to grant extra interviews or hand jobs to one of a small number of current assistants of color is just wrong. Wrong.

    • jkoms57

      Put it this way.

      Steelers wanted to hire Wisenhunt and Grimm to replace Cowher.

      The other owners said, no, no , no Mr Rooney.. you must hire a minority.

      Now we’re stuck with Tomlin and underachieving due to poor HC decision making despite having a SB calibur roster

      • wagner13

        Stop it. That’s not the reason Tomlin was hired. He was the coordinator of a superb Vikings defense at the time. I like Wisenhunt as well, but it’s not like he exactly thrived as a head coach. Besides that random 2008 season, he flopped in both Arizona and Tennessee

  5. twentyfivemanroster

    I think it’s dumb. If a team has a target coach, they have to interview two minorities that won’t get the job from the inset? I would think that would be worse knowing a team must go through the motion and that’s why I’m being interviewed.

    • jkoms57


      Pretty awkward. But they dont care about the minority coaches feelings.

      They want him hired so the league can get federal kickbacks come tax season

  6. pnedwek

    it makes me wonder if even this is legal to give someone a benefit for that. I wonder if it could go to the Supreme Court because it’s reverse discrimination if you think about it

  7. Big Angry Baby

    How is this NOT blatant Racism … favoritism based on skin color ? YOU hire the best person for the job regardless of skin color.

  8. bigeasye

    The spirit of what they are trying to accomplish is nice but this doesn’t solve it. Do the same guys who get token interviews to check boxes feel good? Perhaps the league should mandate that a certain percentage of coaches and team executives should be minorities. Giving interviews to check a box doesn’t solve the issue.

  9. hooahdefender98

    I’m just tired of recycling coaches. I don’t know if this new rule will help with that.

    • Thomas Bliss

      There is 3 1st time head coaches in the league out of 5 coaching changes. That’s not really recycling.

    • hooahdefender98

      I’m just tired of recycled coaches…and don’t think this new rule will help solve that either.

  10. 12isbetter

    Again, do you have proof they aren’t hiring the best candidates? And is this done because of race? You can try to justify your words and actions with different terms, but they are always what they are!

  11. crosseyedlemon

    I don’t believe the owners are interested in equality nor do I think they are racist. Their interest is $$$ and they would be happy to hire multi colored Sesame Street characters if it made them more wealthy.

  12. nentwigs

    A special paragraph requires that at least one candidate be under 5 feet 6 inches tall. Extra consideration if the candidate is 5 feet 2 inches or less.

    This is the MICKEY ROONEY clause

  13. 2bbige

    Folks who make statements like “ why hire a person of color rather than a qualified applicant” really make me wonder in what world they reside? Systemic racism is not solely a concept but a reality. Experience/education/qualifications are moot if you cannot gain the audience of the hiring team.Sorry to burst anyones utopian existence, but racial bias exists.As a degreed, professional, person of color if color it pains me to address this- but I would be disingenuous to state that bias is absent. Most importantly, qualified & person of color are not mutually exclusive. As arbitrary as these modifications appear,the design is to insure an audience. Hopefully the hiring parties wont continue to utilize them as a formality rather than a legitimate opportunity.

  14. forwhomjoshbelltolls

    Terminology is the key to this issue.

    What does “diversity” mean?

    And is “minority” a racial or mathematic label?

    Mathematically, white players are a minority in the NFL.

    Should steps be taken to ensure there is more diversity on the field? Extra draft picks for teams that sign a white cornerback or an Asian punter?

    If minority is a statement of math, the NFL needs a Sehorn Rule alongside the Rooney Rule.

    Anyone looking for that?

    If minority is a racial label, then any solution (no matter how well intended) will inevitably be racist.

    You can’t fix “bad” racism with “good racism”. It just creates more racism.

    You build an equitable world by trying to eliminate bias and unfairness, not by trying to balance them.

  15. dms0746

    Everyone potentially brings something to the table. I prefer to earn my way rather than be handed it personally. What is equality anyway? It’s not a thing. As anyone really witnessed it? I sure havent. The irony is the league installed a equality rule that is bias. Hire this guy and win a prize! Hire that guy and you dont?

  16. turbosmith9

    the fact that everyone assumes racism is disgusting. mandatory to interview “minority?” that’s more racist than anything. that’s an interview out of pity and duty to the NFL, no coach with any dignity is going to want that interview. it shouldn’t matter color period! look at the players, the majority of players are black not white, and guess what? we all love them the same. its a game people get millions of dollars to entertain. and if yoir an owner and you hire a coach he is there to win. no matter of color. here’s another fun fact. 75 percent(give or take..2010 census numbers) of the population is white.. soooooooo… there is undoubtedly more white coaches available to go to the NFL and thats simple math not racism. get this bullshit racism out of everyone’s mouth and just enjoy life. who cares if your black.. or white.. or Asian or mexican. im so sick of all this racist spatter, because the majority of the time it has nothing to do with racism. will the world just stop with being mediocre? people are people. period.

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