The Rooney Rule has no effect on getting more Black coaches in the NFL


Photo by: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The latest lawsuit filed against the National Football League brings the Rooney Rule’s ineffectiveness up for discussion again.

Former National Football League player Colin Kaepernick will never play another NFL snap again, but he made the league face the ugly truth of the way they’ve handled supporting social injustice, racism and lack of diversity.

Has slapping “end racism” on every end zone and player helmet across the country helped with that?

No, it hasn’t.

Everything feels as it was when Kaepernick first decided to take a knee. Those problems with the NFL were there long before Kaepernick. The Rooney Rule policy only addressed one of the leagues’ many problems.

Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores set the sports world ablaze on Feb. 1 after announcing his class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams: the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos. In the lawsuit, Flores accuses them of discrimination in regards to his interview processes with the teams, as well as firing from the Dolphins.

Flores’ lawsuit brings the Rooney Rules’ effectiveness into question again.

In 2003, the policy was created to help diversify coaching and front office positions but it only requires teams to interview minority candidates, not to hire them. There have been only 11 Black head coaches in the NFL since the Rooney Rule was created.

In the year 2022, nearly 70 percent of the players in the league are Black and there only stands one Black head coach, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other two non-white head coaches currently in the league are Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders who is Latino, and Robert Saleh of the New York Jets who is Lebanese. The league still looks similar to a decade ago when the Rooney Rule was first installed.

The details of Flores’ lawsuit are astonishing. From Broncos’ President showing up to Flores’ interview hungover to the text messages sent to Flores by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulating who he thought to be Brian Daboll for being hired for the Giants’ head coaching job. Flores’ was supposed to be interviewed for that position three days later.

The Rooney Rule is ineffective and does nothing in diversifying. Instead, it just brings false hope and an already known faith for Black candidates that they will not be given the positions they are seeking.

The minds of the organization are already made up before they even walk through the double doors.

In Flores’ lawsuit, he accused Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100,000 to lose games in order to strengthen the team’s position with their NFL Draft pick in 2019. The majority of the time when Black head coaches are hired, they are hired to situations in which there is no successful outcome for the teams. Then they’re fired and blame is thrown upon them as to why a team didn’t succeed in the way they wanted them to.

Roger Goodell responds to the lawsuit admitting that the league is “not doing a good enough job” with increasing diversity in coaching and front-office positions.

Representation goes very far in sports professions or any profession. No one is demanding that the league should have majority Black coaches. The issue is that there shouldn’t be only one in a league with predominantly Black players.

The Rooney Rule policy was created to help with the lack of diversity. If nearly 10 years later, the issue of diversity is still an issue then there’s no need to have that policy.

Abolish the Rooney Rule and handle this issue head-on. It’s a shame having to force diversity in any sports league claiming to be advocates for ending racism.