The Rooney Rule Under Review

By Brandon Wallace

The Rooney Rule first started back in 2003. It demands NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching job (or other miscellaneous senior coaching positions).

Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II noted that he wanted “success or failure” of the rule to be judged by actual “results” per Tim Graham of The Athletic.

“We have to judge our progress on the results. It’s like looking at your team. You are what your record says you are. I’m not going to sit here and accuse anyone of racism, but the facts are what they are. We have to look at the opportunities that were given to minorities this latest round and see what can be done about it.” – Art Rooney II

Only 1/15 total coaching vacancies in the last two hiring cycles went to minority candidates (the one being the Miami Dolphins hiring African American head coach Brian Flores). On top of that, these last few seasons haven’t been particularly great ones for minority coaches. This past season alone, five minority coaches were fired including Hue Jackson (Cleveland Browns), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Todd Bowles (New York Jets), Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals) and Vance Joseph (Denver Broncos). Some would say that you should judge a coach by their record, which wasn’t great for any of the previous mentioned coaches in 2018, but another could argue about the tenure and timeframe a minority coach has to turn a franchise around, opposed to any other coach (Marvin Lewis being a rare case as he was with the Bengals for 16 years).

On the other hand, there also seems to be a trend for teams to hire head coaches that have a background that stems from the offensive side of the ball (20/32 head coaches) where the lack of minorities as assistant coaches there is slim. Maybe this is part of the issue when hiring?

On January 30, 2019, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters during his State of the League address that the “success or failure” of the Rooney Rule isn’t measured in “one-year increments.” Currently, there are four minority head coaches in the NFL including Flores, Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers), Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), and of course, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at it,” Rooney said regarding the rule, “but I would say the real question in my mind is how do we make sure there are people coming into the pipeline that have the opportunity to move up into these positions.”

We’ll keep you posted on the Rooney Rule review progress moving forward.


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