What’s the Rooney Rule? The Rooney Rule requires each team to interview one minority candidate every time there is a head coaching or senior operations position open. It was started in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was a big supporter of diversity within the NFL.
Why did they start it? There were a couple of high profile firings of black head coaches in 2002 and a pretty incriminating study that showed that black coaches were more likely to be fired and less likely to be hired even with higher winning percentages. Not good. Since the rule has been instituted, the number of black coaches has increased and companies like Pinterest and Facebook have started similar policies.
Why isn’t it working? Most head coaches are promoted or hired from offensive/defensive coordinator positions and minorities are not getting those gigs. In fact, of the NFL’s current 85 offensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches only 5 are minorities. On top of that, critics say that teams are just checking the ‘Rooney Rule box’ by interviewing one or two minority candidates without giving them a serious chance.
Does any team get a good diversity score? The Carolina Panthers, N.Y. Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only coaching staffs with at least 50% minorities.
Now women! The NFL held its 1st Women’s Summit in 2016 and Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that they are going to start a Rooney Rule for women. This year the NFL hired its first female referee and first full time female assistant coach. Baby steps… Hopefully, we’ll see some bigger representation by women soon. Maybe Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will get her dream job of serving as NFL Commissioner?