NFL's “Rooney Rule” is an Embarrassment to Black Coaches

Robert DentonCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2010

In what was clearly a good idea, the Rooney Rule, as all affirmative action policies eventually become, has evolved into nothing more than a sideshow of politically correct nonsense.  


Established in 2003, the NFL’s affirmative action policy is designed to give minority coaches opportunities to gain employment in head coaching or upper level administrative positions in NFL organizations.


What it has become, however, is a distraction used to placate the league office and its advertisers, whose livelihood depends exorbitantly on public opinion.


In October, Daniel Snyder hired Sherm Lewis to be the “play caller” for the Washington Redskins, but by all accounts his primary job was to satisfy the NFL’s version of affirmative action before the meddling owner hired the man he wanted all along, Mike Shanahan.


Now, in what can only be described as window dressing, the Seattle Seahawks talked Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier into an interview for their vacant head coaching job before they ultimately hired who they wanted all along, Pete Carroll.


I, for one, can simply not understand why black coaches, or any coach for that matter, would subject themselves to nothing more than a courtesy call to satisfy the glaring eye of the media and the NFL front office. 


Frazier, who has led the Vikings to the league’s second ranked rushing defense (10th overall), is one of the hottest young coaches in the NFL; he will get his opportunity.  However, he and the Seattle Seahawks should be embarrassed about making him go through a “fake” interview to comply with a ridiculous rule.


My question is...who does it serve? Doesn’t this “rule” do nothing more than take away the accomplishments of black coaches? Doesn’t it make it appear as though they are being interviewed due to compliance by the NFL, and not due to the sacrifices they’ve made along the way that put them into positions to be hired in the first place?


This has been the million dollar question regarding affirmative action policies since the debate regarding quotas and reverse discrimination first began in the 1990’s. I won’t turn this into a largely political discussion; arguments on both sides have merit. What I will do, however, is call the NFL out on its blatant disregard for what is truly fair.


It is an embarrassment to all the good young black coaches to be paraded through organizations from one coast to the next for the sheer satisfaction of a “rule.”


Hiring at all levels and within all organizations is largely done through networks that have been established over a long period of time. Is that right? I doubt it, but that’s just the way it is. 


Asking a black coach to come in for an interview and expecting that long standing tradition to change is ridiculous. 


Pretending that the league’s owners don’t already know who they want to hire is nothing more than an insult to the intelligence of the people the NFL is trying to appease. It’s like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic; it serves no purpose.


It does, however, stand to embarrass the very people the NFL is trying to help. I ask… what does Leslie Frazier stand to gain from this interview with the Seahawks? 


I’m quite sure that his reputation has provided him the opportunity to compete for the job, but just as the Redskins had their eye on Shanahan, the Seahawks have their eye on Carroll. Are we to expect Frazier to change owner Paul Allen’s mind? 


The advantage of political correctness is that it makes us, as a society, pay attention to the harmful inequalities that minorities have suffered through throughout our nation’s history.


The disadvantage is, as the parade of Leslie Frazier through the offices of the Seattle Seahawk’s organization shows, it belittles the accomplishments of the people it is designed to raise up.