DOUBLE TAKE: Looking at the NFL's Rooney Rule
There are currently six head coach openings in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins made the first move after the regular season ending by hiring Adam Gase away from the Chicago Bears.
So until all the dominoes fall, it’s going to be fun to pontificate and speculate who ends up where. As one of those teams in need of a new head coach, I’m anxiously awaiting the Cleveland Browns next move.
As I think about the possibilities, one thing that keeps getting stuck in my brain is the absurdity of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule.” We’re all relatively familiar with the phrase, as its one of the first things talked about each offseason as teams search to fill vacancies.
The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires that clubs interview minority candidates for head coach and other openings. It was instituted in 2003.
There have been minority coaches hired, but studies showed they were given less opportunities and fired more quickly than non-minorities. So in that regard, the Rooney Rule has given opportunities to those who may not have gotten them.
But, with that said, in 2016 it’s completely asinine that a professional organization should have to have a rule in place that requires employers to interview a minority. It boggles my mind.
It shouldn’t matter whether a potential coaches’ skin is black, green, blue or purple. What should matter is whether or not they can lead men and coach. Isn’t that what’s important?
Why do other sports leagues not have a similar requirement? Is the NFL still stuck in a prejudicial past?
Let’s hope for a future when ridiculous rules are no longer needed.
So 2016 is a time for change. Then again, so is every year.
The world will never be perfect, but if you’re not striving for perfection you’re falling behind.
Before the Miami Dolphins hired Adam Gase, there were seven head coach vacancies in the National Football League. That’s a larger-than-normal number, but not outrageous. There are head coaching vacancies every year and, therefore, the necessity of the “Rooney Rule” is debated annually.
In short, the Rooney Rule forces NFL franchises to consider African American candidates for coaching positions.
You may ask, “Why only African Americans, and not other minorities?” Because there has been an obvious lack of representation in leadership rolls for a league that is 68 percent African American.
I understand why you would say Title IX has a negative effect in 2016. (The Rooney Rule often draws comparison to Title IX.) In a racist world, it’s impossible to create a perfect safeguard against prejudice or neglect. But the sports world is definitely better, thanks to such institutions.
Before the Rooney Rule (2002), six percent of NFL coaches were African American. This season, that number reached 22 percent.
The existence of such disproportionate cultural representation of players amongst coaches is inappropriate. There is a blatant income disparity between the white population in the United States and all other racial minority groups. If so many of athletes come from places with less opportunity than most of the population, how are we supposed to expect that these athletes are treated with anything more than neglect.
A team led by a coach that has experience in the shoes of the player has a better chance at success.
So, as the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans interview candidates, you have to consider the mandatory inclusion of African American candidates a good thing.
It might not create a perfect world, but it keeps us moving in a positive direction.