The NFL doesn’t want to judge the success or failure of the Rooney Rule based on any particular year — perhaps because the least few years haven’t been good ones for minority coaches.
Now, the owner whose name is on the rule admits it’s time to take a look at how the NFL got to the place where only one job in each of the last two hiring cycles (a total of 15 openings) went to minority candidates.
“We have to judge our progress on the results,” Steelers owner Art Rooney II told Tim Graham of The Athletic. “It’s like looking at your team. You are what your record says you are.
“I’m not going to sit here and accuse anyone of racism, but the facts are what they are. We have to look at the opportunities that were given to minorities this latest round and see what can be done about it.”
Because of the overwhelming trend for teams to hire from the offensive side of the ball (20 of the 32 head coaches have offensive backgrounds), the lack of minorities in those pipeline jobs has become a focus. There are only two minority offensive coordinators and five minority quarterbacks coaches in the league. While retiring Fritz Pollard Alliance director John Wooten said he wasn’t in favor of expanding Rooney Rule interviewing requirements to coordinator jobs, Rooney himself said the idea was worth exploring.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to looking at it,” Rooney said, “but I would say the real question in my mind is how do we make sure there are people coming into the pipeline that have the opportunity to move up into these positions.
“If you don’t have people coming up through the ranks, you can have all the rules about interviewing that you want, but this is not a program where you require teams to hire minorities.”
There are some steps being taken, including a Quarterback Summit at Morehouse College, designed to identify and promote minority coaches into the kind of pipeline jobs that have been fast-tracked in recent years. But there is still much more to be done, and it only takes a quick look at the scoreboard to realize that.