There’s a new rule in affect for the NFL league offices. It’s being described as the ‘Rooney Rule’ for women’. The Rooney Rule, as you may know, forces NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching positions.
Though this new rule for women is different than the Rooney Rule in that it doesn’t apply to NFL teams, just the league office, it is a significant start in ensuring the NFL doesn’t continue to be a big boys club.
Just as Al Davis was way ahead of the curve on the Rooney Rule he was also ahead of the curve on the NFL's new rule which ensures the league offices give women a fair shot at executive positions. Like decades ahead of the curve.
Al Davis made Amy Trask the Raiders' CEO in 1997, nearly 20 years ago, after having spent a decade in the team's front office. She was the first ever female executive and still is the only ever female NFL Chief executive.
So, when I caught wind of this new rule, my first thought was that it should be called the Al Davis Rule. Not surprisingly, Trask and I were on the same wavelength in that regard.
"When I learned that the NFL was instituting a ‘Rooney Rule' for women, my immediate thought and response was that it should be called the ‘Al Davis Rule,'" Trask said in an email to Yahoo! Sports Monday. "I both like and respect Dan Rooney, and I enjoyed a terrific working relationship with him for decades, so my response was not a denigration of Dan but a recognition of Al.
"It both angers and saddens me that there is a need for a Rooney Rule of any sort, as everyone - every business - should hire [and fire] without regard to race, religion, ethnicity or gender, just as Al did for decades. Businesses that don't do so deserve to fail as they are both wrong and dumb."
There are those who would say the Rooney Rule doesn’t solve anything. That if teams want to hire someone, they’re going to hire them regardless of being forced to go through the motions of interviewing a minority candidate. Those minority candidates disagree.
Merely getting in that room for an interview is invaluable. It allows a coach to familiarize himself with the process and a chance they may not otherwise have had. And just because a team has their heart set on a particular candidate, an interview with other potential candidates could plant a seed for future hires. It also gets the coach’s name out there as a viable candidate for other teams who may have a coaching vacancy or will have one in the future.
The same applies to women. It would be easy enough for those in power in the league to only think of male candidates to fill executive positions — in many cases without intention. After all, it is a sport that has only ever fielded men on the professional level. So, in the coaching ranks, it makes sense. But there are a great many executive and front office positions that have no such gender restrictions.
Trask is proof of that as well as Cynthia Hogan who up until recently held the title of the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Government Affairs before leaving for Apple. She had the unenviable position of defending the NFL on the major recent issues involving concussions as well as domestic violence.
The NFL thought it best to try and make sure they kept the hiring process considering female candidates, which may be long overdue. Al Davis was a pioneer in that arena and it is long overdue that he have his name on something that honors his efforts.