The NFL has gotten a deal done to further promote its diversity in terms of Coaches and GMs. Here’s why Steelers Art Rooney II wants a change.
You may have heard of the Rooney Rule – an equality rule derived by Steelers ownership. It is the rule that when searching for a head coaching candidate, a team must interview one minority candidate for the job. If teams fail to comply with this, they are fined by the NFL.
Teams have been following this rule. But there was still sentiment around the league that minorities were underrepresented in major coaching and GM positions throughout the league. There were also critics who said that minorities were still underrepresented on the offensive side of the ball.
Art Rooney II is the son of Dan Rooney, the former Pittsburgh Steelers owner and author of the original “Rooney Rule.” Dan Rooney was the promoter of the Rooney rule that was named after him.
This tradition has continued to Art Rooney II as he is the Chairman of the NFL’s Workplace Diversity Committee. He led the charge with this proclamation:
"There are three things in particular that we got done today that are very important…No 1., we are going to ask all teams to develop a diversity and inclusion plan over the next year that really impacts all levels of hiring at the league and club levels; No. 2, we approved a series of enhancements to the Rooney Rule that will require two minority candidates to be interviewed for a head coaching position, one minority candidate be interviewed for any coordinator position, and one minority candidate to be interviewed for any senior football or GM position, and for other senior level positions around the league and the clubs, there must be an interview for a minority or a female candidate; and finally No. 3, we passed a resolution that is aimed at increasing mobility throughout the league."
This quote shows the effort that the NFL and Art Rooney II took to make minority candidates a priority in the hiring process of the NFL. This focused on hiring at more levels than just the head coaching position and focused on the most senior positions in the NFL.
Whether this new resolution will actually change the diversity of the NFL is still in question. The Rooney Rule has forced teams to interview more minority candidates, but has the NFL hired more minority candidates?
Steelers lead by example
The Steelers hired Mike Tomlin 14 years ago, and he has been one of the most tenured coaches in the league. He has coached the Steelers since 2007 and has won 133 games and only lost 74 while tying one game.
There are only four minority head coaches in the NFL and two GMs. The Rooney rule has produced some results but critics argue it hasn’t been enough. There are ideas on the table to reward teams with draft positions for hiring candidates, but that idea has been tabled for now.
The NFL is making progress and we should grant them credit for moving in the right direction with its diversity. The league will continue to receive criticism from the left but they have taken steps to make the game safer and for its leadership to be more diverse.
One of the best values of sports is that it is one of the most meritocratic institutions we have in America. Art Rooney would like it to remain that way moving forward.