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Tweaking Rooney Rule Didn't Change Much in NFL

Just 2 of 7 head coaches hired are minorities
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2021 4:35 PM CST

(Newser) – The NFL expanded the Rooney Rule to give more minority candidates opportunities to become a head coach and reward teams that develop them. But more interviews didn’t equal more hirings this offseason. According to an analysis of candidates known to have interviewed for seven head coach openings this month, 11 were minorities, and 16 were white. Only two of the seven jobs went to minorities, the AP reports. "There's still work to be done in this area, no question about it," Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II said Thursday. The Houston Texans hired David Culley this week, making the 65-year-old longtime assistant the league’s third Black head coach hired. The New York Jets previously hired Robert Saleh, the son of Lebanese immigrants and the first NFL head coach known to be Muslim. Culley and Saleh join Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Miami's Brian Flores, and Washington's Ron Rivera as the league's only minority head coaches. In a sport where about 70% of the players are minorities, the lack of diversity among head coaches sticks out.

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Rooney said the league will take another look at the rule named after his father, Dan Rooney, who was chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. "We didn't make as much progress on the head coaching side as we would have liked," he said. "But I would say we did make some progress on the general manager side, which is encouraging." Two of the seven GM vacancies were filled by minorities when the Atlanta Falcons hired Terry Fontenot and the Detroit Lions picked Brad Holmes. They join Cleveland’s Andrew Berry and Miami’s Chris Grier as the only Black GMs in the league. Perhaps an increase in minority executives will lead to more minority head coaches. But ultimately, the owners make the decision, and 31 of the 32 NFL owners are white. Last May, the NFL amended the Rooney Rule to stipulate teams must interview at least two minority candidates not associated with their own team for a head coaching vacancy. Also, one minority candidate has to be interviewed for coordinator positions, as well as for high-ranking positions in the front office, including general manager. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy had six interviews but was passed over again.

(Read more NFL stories.)

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