The Rooney Rule: To be or not to be?
By Byler E. Henry
Since 2003, the Rooney rule has been instituted in the NFL. So far one coach has stated what he thought of the rule, Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. He shared his thoughts on the rule with reporters: “I think it’s good to get in front of the decision-makers and let them hear what you have to say, but at the same time, I think some people take advantage of it. I’m not for it. Hire the best man for the job. That’s all I want… I think sometimes people do that to check the box. I don’t agree with it.”
The Rooney rule states that a team must interview at least one minority candidate for a leadership position, such as general manager or head coach. It seems as if the rule was put into place to give minorities a chance to compete and to keep the same coaches of the other skin tone who haven’t been successful from getting recycled around the league and getting more opportunities.
The rule is named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league’s diversity committee. At first glance, the rule sounds good, giving minorities a chance to get their foot in the door and a chance to compete for the job.
Anthony Lynn has pointed out the loophole in the rule. Teams may interview the one minority candidate just to say they fulfilled the requirement, when they have no intention to hire them.
Tony Dungy has also given his opinion on how the rule should work. Dungy is in the hall of fame as a coach, winning a Super Bowl with the Colts in 2006. “Where I think so many people fail when it comes to hiring a coach is they don’t know what they want. I’ll have people talk to me, “Who would you recommend?” or, “Who do you think would be a good candidate?” And I’ll say, “What are you looking for? Do you want a young coach, a defensive coach, an offensive guy, a disciplinarian?” Every guy that’s a good coach might not be the right fit. You have to know what you’re looking for, and find out who’s going to be the right person.” A strong supporter of the Rooney rule, Dungy feels that it’s effective when teams hire who they feel would be the best candidate for the job without rushing into a decision.
Out of the 32 teams in the NFL there are currently six minority head coaches: Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Jim Caldwell (Lions), Ron Rivera (Panthers), Todd Bowles (Jets), and Hue Jackson (Browns).
It seems as if the league will slowly start hiring more minorities in head coaching positions.
Since the Rooney rule, out of the current minority coaches Marvin Lewis has led the Bengals to the playoffs multiple times, Mike Tomlin has appeared in two super bowls, winning one, Jim Caldwell has appeared in a Super Bowl, and Ron Rivera is an NFC Champion appearing in last year’s Super Bowl.
After looking closely at the rule and understanding both sides of the argument, I can see why the rule was created and how a loophole can be found. The best candidate should be hired based on the right fit and record of accomplishment. Everyone deserves a fair chance. I believe the Rooney rule is a good rule to have but it can be ineffective if the loophole is used.
“I’m not saying hire me because I’m Black, but I’m also saying don’t deny me because I’m Black. If I’m equally as qualified the determining factor shouldn’t be the color of my skin.” – Shannon Sharpe