NFL: Why The Rooney Rule Needs To Be Changed Or Scrapped

Jason Clary@IamJClaryCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike TomlinJoe Robbins/Getty Images

If you are unsure of the Rooney Rule, it is as follows: An organization must give minorities the opportunity to be a head coach or to hold another position of superiority.

The above rule is an example of what makes the United States a nation of great opportunity, and a nation of great diversity.

However, given that the United States is growing more diverse, is the Rooney Rule even necessary?

As the NFL is one of the major sports in the United States and the world, it is imperative that a precedent like the Rooney Rule is handled with the utmost respect.

But given the current times in our society, does the Rooney Rule get in the way of making timely decisions?

The scenario that comes into question was the ongoing talks between Jim Harbaugh and the Miami Dolphins.

Although Harbaugh ended up accepting the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers, the Dolphins organization was in a bit of a conundrum.

While Tony Sparano was being held in the air, Jim Harbaugh was being courted by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

In midst of the rumored negotiations, it was reported that before Miami could offer Harbaugh a contract, they needed to interview a minority candidate to appease the Rooney Rule.

Not only was this demeaning to Sparano, this was disrespectful to the minority candidates that would have potentially interviewed for a position.

Everyone knew that Miami had an undoubted interest in Harbaugh, which would leave the minority interviewees to assume that they were being brought in to satisfy some rule.

I don't know what is more confusing, the final decision for Miami to keep Sparano, or the fact that the NFL still makes organizations operate within the Rooney Rule, especially when every media outlet in the immediate area can pass information about a team's favorite candidate, minority or not.

When a team enters the offseason with questions at head coach, they already have an inkling of who they want to pursue.

As the NFL is a league of higher standards and excellence, it should not be assumed that an organization would pass up on excellence, just because of the color of a man's skin.

In line with the above statements, both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings have very likable, well respected head coaches, who are both African-American.

Minnesota knew that Leslie Frazier was their guy long before any interview process began.

And when Pittsburgh was hiring a new head coach several seasons ago, they already knew that the front runner for their head coaching vacancy was going to be Mike Tomlin, who is one of the better coaches in the NFL.

Also, coaches like Lovie Smith and Marvin Lewis have had the opportunity to have long stays with their current teams, and both of those coaches are considered minorities.

Historically, African-Americans have had to endure possibly the toughest upbringing as a race in the United States. Other races have had to endure similar upbringings.

One thing that this country has learned as a civilization is the practice of tolerance, acceptance and equality. Through these values, we, as a country, have elected an African-American man to be the President of the United States.

I was raised in a household where these values, along with respect and honesty, were not lessons, but ways of life. Someday, when I have children, I will raise them upon the same values.

I have immense respect for why the Rooney Rule was established, and the practices that it taught, but there comes a time and place where certain issues need to be re-evaluated, and the Rooney Rule seems to be one of those rules.