Is the Rooney Rule Helping Minority Candidates Become NFL Head Coaches?

James Walker@BRJamesWalkerAnalyst IIJanuary 10, 2010

ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 3: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on January 3, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The 49ers beat the Rams 28-6.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It was quite a surprise when the Seattle Seahawks fired Jim Mora after one season as head coach. Soon thereafter, stories emerged that USC's Pete Carroll would become the next head coach of Seattle.

Oh, and by the way, Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier was offered the chance to interview for the position, but declined.

Was he really offered the chance to interview?

The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 to ensure that NFL teams give minority coaches the opportunity to interview or be considered for head coaching and senior football operations positions.

Does the Rooney Rule serve its purpose, or is it a hurdle NFL owners must jump before making a hiring decision?

Leslie Frazier chose to not have any part of it. I'm guessing that he didn't want to waste his time interviewing for a job he knew he wasn't going to get. Clearly, the Seahawks already made their choice on who will be their next head coach.

The intention of the Rooney Rule is clear, and named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the league's diversity committee. The Rooney family is well known for their long history of giving African-Americans opportunities with their team and organization.

It is the NFL's version of affirmative action.

One wonders if the Rooney Rule is the NFL's attempt to address equal opportunity or a way to appease liberal groups and factions inside and outside of the NFL.

There are legal scholars who are petitioning to have the Rooney Rule enforced in college football, as well.

Currently, six percent of all college coaches are minorities, which is the same percentage the NFL realized prior to the implementation of the Rooney Rule. Now the NFL has increased to 22 percent since implementation.

However, some teams have claimed the Rooney Rule had nothing to do with their decision to hire a minority head coach. Oddly, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams. When they hired current head coach Mike Tomlin in 2007, they had interviewed Ron Riviera prior to making their decision.

Clearly, opportunity still remains for minorities in top leadership positions in both the NFL and college football. Moreover, opportunity remains in all facets of our society.

The question remains if mandates like the Rooney Rule serve the purpose they are created. Some may argue they cause more harm than good by creating animosity and increased racism.

Perhaps stricter adherence and compliance of the Rooney Rule is necessary. I am not suggesting that hiring quotas or requirements be implemented to ensure minorities are hired, but I think it is prudent that the NFL ensure owners are not just giving face time to satisfy the rule.

Should NFL owners have be forced to proactively seek out minorities to apply for job openings? I say not. 

However, if someone applies for an open position, then they should be afforded the same opportunity regardless of their ethnic background.

That's what the Rooney Rule should guarantee. By forcing teams to interview minorities just to say they did it is doing nothing to address a serious situation. 

Guarantee that minorities who are interested in a position that they will be given the same opportunity to be hired is what the "Rule" should do.


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