Why the NFL Should Not Consider Amending the Rooney Rule

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Why the NFL Should Not Consider Amending the Rooney Rule
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a key piece of evidence that the Rooney Rule is working in the National Football League

The National Football League had its annual cycle of hiring and firings come to a conclusion on Thursday, when the Arizona Cardinals hired Bruce Arians to replace Ken Whisenhunt as head coach.

With that hiring, it marked the eighth team to make a change at the head coaching position this offseason.

That number indicates that NFL owners are raising their standards when it comes to wins and losses, and will ensure that the product on the field becomes even better.

One would think that the NFL would be thrilled with this. However, after all eight openings were filled without a minority candidate being hired, the NFL wants to revise the Rooney Rule.

Established in 2003, the Rooney Rule was created to give minority candidates a shot at obtaining a head coaching position.

Each team looking for a head coach is mandated to interview one minority candidate for that position. The rule was also amended in 2009 to include front office positions.

It sounds like a fair concept, but the report by the Associated Press claims that the NFL is disappointed and wants to expand the mandate to have teams interview more candidates before making a decision.

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But what if there isn't a minority candidate who is qualified to fill the position? That seems to be the problem when it comes to the "ineffectiveness" of the Rooney Rule.

In most cases, teams have some idea as to who they want to hire as their head coach.

The Detroit Lions found themselves in that situation in 2003 when they wanted to replace Marty Morningweg with Steve Mariucci. With Mariucci virtually set in stone as the team's next head coach, the Lions failed to abide by the Rooney Rule and were fined $200,000.

In cases like that, bringing in a minority candidate would be a token interview, and the candidate is not taken seriously, as a decision has already been made.

There's a chance the minority candidate could make the owner change their mind, but usually this seems like a waste of time.

However, the Rooney Rule has served its purpose by increasing the number of minority coaches in the NFL.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
With the Rooney Rule working as is, the NFL saw its first Super Bowl with two minority head coaches when Lovie Smith's (left) Chicago Bears faced Tony Dungy's (right) Indianapolis Colts in 2007.

Prior to the rule's inception, there had been only seven minority head coaches in the history of the NFL. Since then, there have been nine minority head coaches in the league, including Mike Tomlin (who has won a Super Bowl) and Lovie Smith (who has appeared in a Super Bowl).

With that rate, it shows that the Rooney Rule is working in the NFL and does not need to be amended.

This year was simply one in which none of the owners were blown away by minority candidates. Amending the Rooney Rule is a knee-jerk reaction to something that's not a major problem in the NFL.

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