Steelers Owner Art Rooney II Says NFL Will Examine Rooney Rule Amid Criticism

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Art Rooney II watches warmups before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

After just one of five open head coaching spots was filled by a minority candidate, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II explained that the league will examine how to create more opportunities. 

"I think where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be," Rooney told Steve Wyche of NFL Total Access (via NFL.com). "We need to take a step back and look at what's happening with our hiring processes."

The league instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003 that required teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching openings and expanded the rules in 2009 and 2018, but there is a belief the NFL's Workplace Diversity Committee can do more going forward.

"The first thing we'll do as part of our diversity committee is really review this past season's hiring cycle and make sure we understand what went on and talk to the people involved both on the owner's side, management's side as well as the people that were interviewed," Rooney said.

There are currently only four nonwhite head coaches in the NFL, while Ron Rivera—who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent—was hired by the Washington Redskins this offseason after being fired by the Carolina Panthers.

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores was the only minority candidate hired as a head coach during last year's cycle.

According to Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight, 70 percent of players are nonwhite but only 12.5 percent of head coaches will fit that description in 2020, which matches the lowest percentage in over 15 years since the institution of the Rooney Rule.

One argument has been the lack of qualified minority candidates with few people of color employed at offensive or defensive coordinator in the league, but Rooney suggested Tuesday the NFL could adopt rules to help in this regard as well.

"Perhaps even expand the Rooney Rule into some of the lower levels, perhaps the coordinator level," he said. "Just to make sure the minority opportunities are there."

All of the teams with vacancies followed the Rooney Rule this offseason, with Kansas City Chiefs coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former head coach Marvin Lewis and Dallas Cowboys defensive back coach Kris Richard among those interviewed.

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