ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The ‘Rooney Rule’ remains a priority for the NFL, with the league’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent fully engaged in making sure that someday, it is no longer necessary.
In an NFL offseason where Marvin Lewis and Eric Bieniemy failed to be hired to head coaching positions, despite both candidates being immensely qualified, the role of the ‘Rooney Rule’ in the interviewing and hiring process throughout the league came under fire. The rule, designed to ensure that teams interview ethnic minority candidates for head coach and senior management positions, seems to have fallen flat in recent years.
Currently, only four head coaches and two general managers are minorities. This follows on last offseason’s infamous purge of minority coaching talent where five of the league’s seven African-American head coaches were fired.
“That’s been frankly of the top of the line each and every day. We are looking at not only the Rooney Rule but the ‘Rooney Rule’ as a tool and not the main policy. You’re looking at club policy, league policy. Then there is the Rooney, that is a tool that compliments the league’s hiring practices, the club’s hiring practices,” Vincent told SportsIllsutrated.com.
“But yes, there is daily discussion about that. Daily discussion about education. All have to work together to get where we want to get which is an open process, a fair process, a competitive process. League policies, club policies and then the complimentary ‘Rooney Rule.’ Eventually, we shouldn’t be talking about a ‘Rooney Rule’.”
The concern this offseason specifically stems from the decline in diversity when it comes to head coaching hires the past two years. Of the five head coaching hires this past offseason, only one, Ron Rivera, was a minority candidate. The fact that neither Lewis nor Bieniemy, both more qualified than several of the other hires made this year, didn’t get head coaching positions is concerning to many who follow the league.
Last year, the NFL saw eight head coaching hires. Only one of the hires, Miami Dolphins Brian Flores, was a minority candidate.
Vincent spoke to SportsIllustrated.com after being honored this past weekend by the Maxwell Football Club at a gala event. The annual event, held at the Tropicana Atlantic City, honored a number of football players, current and legends, including Chuck Bednarik winner Chase Young and Tropicana Legends Award recipient Anthony Munoz.