Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Likes Idea of Adopted Rooney Rule, Knows There's More Work Ahead

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agrees the changes to the Rooney Rule were needed, but the system isn't fixed yet.
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The NFL's adjustments to the Rooney Rule will allow minority and female applicants within the league to 'hopefully' find more success in the hiring process moving forward.

Adopting new requirements for the first time since 2003, the league passed incentives for teams to interview certain external applicants that are minorities - and included female requirements for the first time.

On 'Coffee with Cal' hosted by Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he's a fan of the idea to encourage teams to hire minority candidates.

"We've always taken it from the approach of, punitive if you don't interview minority candidates or things of that nature," Tomlin said. "I just like the different approach in terms of spinning it 180 and talking about maybe incentivizing those that develop the talent and those that hire the talent."

Tomlin, who's one of just four minority head coaches in the NFL, said he recognizes that the system needs adjustments.

The league reportedly discussed gifting teams with NFL Draft picks if they hired a minority head coach. Once the news spread, former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Jones spoke out, calling the idea "offensive".

"It was offensive, definitely offensive," Lewis told the Baltimore Sun. "It was like having Jim Crow laws.

"Draft picks are like gold. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As a head coach, no one wants to be hired or put in that position."

Tomlin agrees with the idea to add more value to hiring a minority coach but agreed it's still a conversation that's continuing to grow.

"We're making some adjustments because we're acknowledging right now that the system is broken, that minorities are not getting enough opportunity," Tomlin said. "And we're trying to just figure out how to stimulate that... I agree it's debatable about the value placed on the incentivized plan, but I just generally like the discussion."

The NFL's new implications on the Rooney Rule require teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching positions. At least one external offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators, and at least one external minority candidate for senior football operations or general manager positions.

The changes also require teams to interview at least one external woman for positions such as club president, communications, human resources, legal, football operations, senior executives of finance, sales, marketing, sponsorships, information technology, and security positions.

Tomlin is set to appear in front of NBA coaches today to discuss the changes to the Rooney Rule.

"We have a problem with minority hiring, specifically in football," Tomlin said. "But I guess that it's an issue of minority hiring across a lot of industries and lines. I'm on with the NBA coaches tomorrow, actually, talking about things that are going on in our game with the Rooney Rule."

Noah Strackbein is a Senior Writer at AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.