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  • What is the Rooney Rule?
    • The Rooney Rule is a rule that was put in place by the NFL that requires teams searching for head coaching jobs to interview at least one diverse candidate. The league enforced the rule in 2003, then later altered in 2009 to include general manager and other front-office positions. In December 2018, the NFL strengthened the rule to hopefully enhance the effectiveness by ruling that teams had to interview at least one candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a candidate that is not currently employed by the organization. The Rooney rule named after the late Pittsburg Steelers’ owner and chairman of the league’s diversity committee, Dan Rooney.
  • What are the consequences of going against the Rooney Rule?
    • Teams that fail to interview at least one candidate of color for their head coaching position, can lose their first-round draft pick and will forfeit later round picks if candidates of color continue not to be interviewed.
  • The Rooney Rule going forward.
    • It is believed that the changes that could be made include requiring teams to interview diverse candidates for coordinator or increasing the number of minority interviews conducted. Hall of fame coach and the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl, Tony Dungy, believes that the rule needs to be evolved by the league.
    • “I think owners need help identifying quality candidates. And I don’t chalk it all up to racism. I don’t believe there are many people in professional football who would intentionally bypass a candidate they thought could take them to the playoffs or to a Super Bowl simply because of their race.”, Dungy said on NBC Sports, and he believes the owners need help identifying candidates for coaching positions.
Minority coaches in the NFL by year
  •  Recent coaching hires?
    • Over the last three years, only two coaches of color have been hired. During the 2020 hiring cycle, only one coach of color, out of five open positions, was hired was Ron Rivera by the Washington Redskins. In 2019, there were eight teams in the search for a new head coach, and only the Miami Dolphins hired a person of color, Brian Flores. Out of seven coaching positions during the 2018 offseason, the only black coach hired was Steve Wilks by the Arizona Cardinals, then was fired one season later.
  • Problems outside the hiring process.
    • Coaches of color are not keeping their positions as the head coach. These coaches are on a shorter “leash” when it comes to their job security in comparison to white head coaches. For example, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garret, steadily kept his job for the last decade until getting fired at the end of this season, even though he only made the playoffs three times and was eliminated in the first round all three times. Compared to Steve Wilks, hired in 2018 then fired one year later, who did go 3-13 and landed the first pick in the 2019 draft. It is understandable why Wilks was relieved of his duties, but he was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury, the former head coach that was fired from Texas Tech University. Another example of a black coach not keeping his position is Jim Caldwell, formally with the Detroit Lions. Caldwell was the head coach of the Lions for four seasons, with an overall record of 36-28 with two playoff appearances, but he was replaced by former Patriots defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia.
Percentage of African-American head coaches in the NFL.

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