The Rooney Rule in the NFL requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a new head coach for their team. It is designed to make sure that minority candidates are given more consideration for these jobs and is intended to increase the name recognition and hopefully increase the chances for a minority candidate to be hired.
That has not happened however, with only 1 minority head coach hired between 2012 and 2016. That coach is Todd Bowles of the New York Jets, who had been hired after being an excellent defensive coordinator under Bruce Arians in Arizona. That is important to note, because the real problem isn't only associated to minority head coaches but also to offensive and defensive coordinators being mostly white coaches as well.
The numbers are pretty ridiculously stacked against minority coaches right now with ESPN reporting that 80 out of 85 offensive coordinators, QB coaches and offensive quality coaches are white, along with 23 out of 32 defensive coordinators. These are the coaching positions that are most often given promotions that lead to being a head coach in the NFL and it's clearly where the diversity problem in the NFL starts.
The most eye opening stat that ESPN reported was that all 37 coaching positions with "Quarterback" in the title are white coaches. You are telling me there isn't one minority candidate qualified enough to earn a job working with a team's QB? Not one?!
No wonder white coaches are commonly given promotions while minority coaches are not, they are already in control of most of the high profile coaching jobs available in the NFL. A league that has only 28.6% (According to a study in Nov of 2015 by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport) of it's players that are white has 88% of their highest profiled coaching positions filled by white people.
Yeah, there is still a diversity problem in the NFL. Sorry, it's true. Luckily Hue Jackson was hired this off-season for 2017 so there is one more minority coach to add to the league but it still isn't enough to say the diversity problem in the NFL is solved.
Tony Dungy, the first African American coach to win a Super bowl, has something to say on the problem. He is calling out the NFL for their dishonesty in adhering to the true essence of the Rooney Rule. It was never meant to be something to just do to meet the requirements, it was meant to make teams truly research and consider hiring minority candidates that they weren't even considering before the rule was instituted.
"The good thing about the Rooney Rule was not that you had to interview a minority candidate but that it slowed the process down and made you do some research," Tony Dungy told ESPN.com. "But now it seems like in the last few years, people haven't really done what the rule was designed for. It has become, 'Just let me talk to a couple minority coaches very quickly so I can go about the business of hiring the person I really want to hire anyway.'"
People have argued this a long time, that the Rooney Rule was ineffective and that it was a farce that had minority candidates brought on specifically to satisfy the rule. That appears especially true when teams go 5 years with only hiring one black candidate. It also really shines a light on the lack of opportunities presented to minorities when 21 out of 22 first time head coaches are white over that same 5 year period.
The problem starts at the lower levels though, not just at the head coach position. The NFL needs to diversify their higher profile assistant jobs for the numbers to ever equal out fairly. Of the head coaches hired over the past 20 years, 94% held one of the higher profile coordinator jobs or already had head coaching experience first.
The old adage of needing experience for the promotion but can't having experience until you get the promotion is not just true for college kids looking for work in the real world. It is always true in sports and specifically the NFL. Until NFL teams broaden their horizons on their assistant coaches the Rooney Rule will not be effective.
The scary part is that these are the numbers WITH a rule in place forcing teams to interview minorities, what would it have looked like without the rule?
The number of minority coaches and assistants in the NFL has flatlined to an incredibly low number, ESPN.com reports.
Jim Trotter explains why the NFL is having an issue hiring minority coaches even with the Rooney Rule.
There's only been one minority hired as an NFL head coach since 2012
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