Art Rooney: NFL will review Rooney Rule, could consider expanding it

Charean Williams

The Rooney Rule is named after late Steelers owner Dan Rooney. His son, current Steelers owner Art Rooney II, agrees the rule didn’t work as intended this season.

“Where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Rooney told Steve Wyche of NFL Media on Tuesday.

The policy was established in 2003 with an intent to give minority candidates more opportunities for head coaching and football operations jobs. But the league has come under fire after the current hiring cycle ended with only one minority candidate hired as a head coach.

Ron Rivera’s hiring by Washington marked the second consecutive season only one minority candidate earned a head coaching opportunity. The four other teams with head coaching vacancies — the Cowboys, Panthers, Browns and Giants — interviewed at least one diverse candidate as required by the rule but did not hire a minority.

Rooney told Wyche the NFL’s Workplace Diversity Committee will review what occurred during this hiring cycle to determine what can be done to improve opportunities for minority candidates.

The rule could expand to include coordinator hirings or could increase the required number of minority interviews for head coaching or front office positions.

“Obviously, we have to look at what we can do differently now,” Rooney said. “Perhaps even expand the Rooney Rule into some of the lower levels, perhaps the coordinator level. Just to make sure the minority opportunities are there. . . .

“I think in general when you look at this year’s process, and like I said, we’re going sit down and look at it early. As it appears right now, there just weren’t very many minorities in the process at all this year, and I’m not sure why that is. It doesn’t need to be that way. We have about one-third of the coaches in the National Football League are from the minority communities. That’s really not a bad pipeline. And so, the question is: Why aren’t more of those people getting interviews? Why aren’t more of those people advancing through the process? Like I said, there are a lot of pieces to it that we have to look at. We have a lot of work to do that.”

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an advocacy group that fights to increase minority representation in the NFL, released a statement Monday calling this year’s hiring cycle a “blemish on the National Football League.”