The Rooney Rule was was put in place by the NFL in 2003 to require NFL teams to interview minority coaching candidate for vacant head coaching positions. The tangible results of the rule, however, don’t match up with the 13 year long, self congratulatory pat on the back the NFL has given itself for taking steps to ensure minority candidates are at least interviewed for coaching positions.
How much progress has actually been made? The answer is not a lot. In 2002, one year prior to the rule’s adoption, there were two African American head coaches in the league, Denny Green and Tony Dungy. Today, there are only three African American coaches – Mike Tomlin, Jim Caldwell, Todd Bowles – and Ron Rivera, of Hispanic descent.
Citing the lack of progress of minority coaches in the NFL, Jason and Colin were asked what’s wrong with the Rooney Rule, and what can be done to fix it? Jason sees the rule as a PR stunt and thinks better efforts need to be made to reach out to the grass roots to foster minority coaching growth.
“What should have happened, in 2003, when they started the Rooney Rule, what should have happened 20 – 30 years ago. The NFL, led by the NFLPA, should have been pushing for a comprehensive program to plant seeds with young coaches. Because if you don’t fix the entry door into coaching, which is the graduate assistant coaching job in college. That entry door has to be fixed, so black football players can walk through that door.”
Whitlock pointed out that the largest barrier for young African American coaches entering the profession is surviving financially while paying their dues as a GA. One solution would be to create programs that would help young coaches bridge the financial gap when coaches make next to nothing while cutting their teeth.
Regardless of the next step, there is currently only one more African American coach in the NFL than there was 13 years ago, when the rule became NFL law. Clearly, it’s time for the NFL to structurally change it’s approach to the problem.
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) July 19, 2016