John Wooten: Rooney Rule working "especially well" in NFL


Former Coach - Herm Edwards

(Herm Edwards photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)

(Tony Dungy photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

Talk of Fame Network

Since 2010 there have been 47 head-coaching hires in the NFl, but only seven have gone to African-American candidates – including Hue Jackson, who this year was hired to head the Cleveland Browns.

Critics complain that’s evidence that the Rooney Rule – established in 2003 to require clubs to interview minority candidates – is not doing its job. But former Cleveland Browns' lineman and, now, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, John Wooten, insists they're wrong.

"I can't tell you how great the rule is working," Wooten said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "It is working especially well.

"First of all, in order to appreciate how well the Rooney Rule is actually working ... ask Ken Fiore of the league office to send you a chart of minorities throughout all the organizations all over the National Football League and all the assistant coaches, all the offensive and defensive coordinators, general managers, assistant general managers, directors of player personnel all the way to chief operating officers like Kevin Warren in Minnesota. It has done since (2003) an outstanding job of opportunities for minorities."

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is a group named after the former head coach that promotes the hiring of minority coaches, scouts and front-office personnel in the NFL.

Wooten, who became chairman of the Alliance in 2003, made his comments less than a month after former Indianapolis and Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy became the second African-American head coach to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Pollard was the first) – a move Wooten called a significant step forward for minority coaches everywhere.

"You saw a real move of saying to the American public that there are minorities out here that, when given the opportunity, can excel and will excel," Wooten said. "And this is why the Fritz Pollard (Alliance) under the Rooney Rule has been, in my opinion, a move that has made the National Football League the top sports league in the world."

Nevertheless, there are several minority coaches – Lovie Smith, Hue Jackson, Raheem Morris and Herm Edwards (in Kansas City), to name a few – fired after three or fewer years on the job. Smith was cashiered earlier this season after just two years in Tampa Bay, while Jackson was canned in Oakland after one year on the job. But Wooten doesn’t believe that’s evidence of owners demonstrating less patience than they might with others … except, perhaps, for one instance.

"The only thing that we have that bothered me," he said. "was the year Lovie had when he was 10-6 over in Chicago (2012), and he gets fired. Now when you win 10 games you have done a lot of things right."


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