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NFL Rooney Rule Ridiculous?

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NFL Rooney Rule Ridiculous?
(Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

In 2003, The Rooney Rule was instituted by the NFL in response to a report commissioned by the late Johnny Cochran (famed O.J. attorney) and Cyrus Mehri.

The report, published in 2002, lambasted the dearth of black head coaches in the NFL.

One of the more ridiculous statements that it made was "...that black coaches averaged 1.1 more wins per season than white coaches and led their teams to the playoffs 67 percent of the time, compared with 39 percent of the time for White coaches".

Do they dance better, too?

How absurd, to suggest that simply because a coach is black, he has a better chance of taking his team to the playoffs. Cochran and Mehri were able to make their statement appear credible simply because there were only two black coaches, as opposed to 30 white coaches.

And an average between two individuals is going to give a higher average than an average among 30. It is a simple case of basic math.

Cochrans's report was spurious, of course. And his obfuscation is typical of a self-serving trial lawyer: The truth is not the truth, but what you can make the truth appear to be.

What a horrible propagation of a racial stereotype, as if somehow a coach's race contributes to better coaching.

Still Cochran did what Cochran did best—he threatened the NFL with a lawsuit. But on what grounds?

Perhaps this a good point to remind the reader that lawsuits can't be filed simply because one feels like it. You can't have an "I think my boss is a jerk because he eats all the jelly donuts at our meetings" lawsuit. There must be some sort of legal standing to sue, i.e. a law has been violated.

While Cochran was yelling discrimination, I ask, discrimination of what? Based on the numbers Cochran cites at the time, with approximately 35 percent of the NFL's payroll being black, (and of those, do I really need to point out that the majority, as players, are making some of the highest salaries, not just in the NFL, but of ALL employed adults, black, white, male or female), where is the discrimination?

Cochran was doing what Cochran did best: grandstanding and threatening. and doing it for his own expediency. For the love of Johnnie Cochran, and his insatiable need to promote himself.

It certainly wasn't out of a love of football.

"One bad year and you're out. There seems to be a lack of patience as far as black coaches are concerned," Cyrus Mehri added, inferring that black head coaches only get one season to prove themselves .

Say what? The two black head coaches in 2002 were Tony Dungy of the Colts (who had already had a four-year run as head coach for Tampa Bay) and Herman Edwards of the Jets, who was beginning his first year as a head coach, but who continued in that position for another four seasons.

To whom is Cochran referring? Even Art Shell had a four year run with the Raiders—from 1990-1994. Where are the one-hit wonders?

It's not what the truth is, but what you can make the truth appear to be.

Still, he made enough of a noise that the NFL listened, and instituted what is now known as "The Rooney Rule". This rule requires that when interviewing for a new head coach, NFL owners must interview at least one minority, or face a fine for not doing so.

Yesterday, out of the owner's meeting in Fort Lauderdale, came the announcement from Commissioner Goodell that the NFL owners are thinking of extending the Rooney Rule to the position of General Manager.

Hey, while you're at it, can you extend it to the cheerleaders? I have a nephew who would be just great.

That is how absurd this rule is.

I don't care what race my coaches, football players, general managers, owners, scorekeeper, or ball boys are. I buy my tickets, and go to the games, to see my team win. To join the camaraderie of tens of thousands of fans for an afternoon of boisterousness. To drink beer and play armchair quarterback.

When I saw Mike Tomlin on the sidelines during the last Superbowl, I didn't think, "Wow there's a black head coach, good thing we have the Rooney Rule". I thought, "Why the hell did Minnesota let that guy go?"

Maybe it's just me, but when I think of the millions upon millions of dollars that the owners funnel into their teams, I have to believe they want to win, too. And I don't think they need a rule to encourage them to hire the right personnel, who will help them do just that.

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