What is the Rooney Rule? Explaining the NFL's Diversity Policy for Hiring Coaches

As coaches are fired and hired this offseason, you'll be hearing a lot about the Rooney Rule. 
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The NFL's regular season has come to an end, which means you can expect plenty of personnel changes within clubs. As coaches are fired and hired this offseason, you'll be hearing a lot about the Rooney Rule. 

Adopted in 2003, the Rooney Rule is an NFL league policy that requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching jobs. Since then, the Rooney Rule has been expanded to include general manager jobs. A similar rule requires that a woman be interviewed for every business front-office position that opens in the league.

The policy is named after former Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who was credited with spearheading the effort. In 2002, Rooney was approached by groups concerned with the lack of coaching and front-office opportunities in the NFL.

Variations of the rule are now in place in other industries, including in the city of Pittsburgh. Facebook and Xerox have similar company policies.

For the 2018 season, there were eight head coaches of color (seven black and one Hispanic), which tied the mark from 2011 for most ever. However, that number was cut in half in 2019 with only four minority head coaches in the NFL–the Chargers' Anthony Lynn, Steelers' Mike Tomlin, Dolphins' Brian Flores and Panthers' Ron Rivera. Carolina fired Rivera in early December after the conclusion of Week 13.

Lynn, Tomlin and Flores remain with the same teams while Rivera was hired by the Redskins at the start of 2020. After Black Monday, five NFL teams were searching for new head coaches, and the Browns are the only franchise with a vacant position left. Unless Cleveland selects a head coach of color, Rivera will be the only minority man hired during the cycle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.