Steelers' Mike Tomlin Says He Likes Idea of NFL Adding Incentives to Rooney Rule

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to reporters after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 28-10. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes there should be incentives for teams to hire minority coaches.

On Monday's episode of Coffee with Cal, the coach discussed potential changes to the Rooney Rule.

"We've always taken it from the approach of, punitive if you don't interview minority candidates or things of that nature," Tomlin said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. "I just like the different approach in terms of spinning it 180 and talking about maybe incentivizing those that develop the talent and those that hire the talent."

A proposed idea would reward teams with improved draft picks if they hire a minority head coach or top executive, according to Jim Trotter of NFL.com. The resolution was tabled by the owners last week.

The 48-year-old has spent 13 years with the Steelers but there have been limited opportunities for minorities elsewhere in the league. Tomlin is one of just four non-white coaches in the NFL, while only two have been hired in the past two years out of 13 openings.

"We're making some adjustments because we're acknowledging right now that the system is broken, that minorities are not getting enough opportunity," Tomlin said. "And we're trying to just figure out how to stimulate that. ...I agree it's debatable about the value placed on the incentivized plan, but I just generally like the discussion."

Though Tomlin likes the idea of possible changes, others have been staunchly opposed to the proposal.

"It was offensive, definitely offensive," former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, per Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. "It was like having Jim Crow laws."

"I just have never been in favor of rewarding people for doing the right thing," former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. "And so I think there's going to be some unintended consequences."

Tomlin is scheduled to speak to NBA coaches on Tuesday about the Rooney Rule.