Black Ex-Coaches Say NFL’s Rooney Rule is Broken

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  • NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three black former NFL head coaches say the league needs to rethink its Rooney Rule for promoting minority hiring after 15 top vacancies — eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager positions — were all filled by white candidates since the regular season ended a month ago.

    “I know the concept is good and something we need to do,” said Tony Dungy, who was with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2006 season when he became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. “Obviously, it’s not working the way it should.”

    The Rooney Rule, implemented in 2003, was named for Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who steadfastly pushed the league to require every team to interview at least one minority candidate every time there is a coaching or general manager opening.

    Before the rule went into effect, the NFL had had only six minority head coaches in more than 80 years. Since it has been in place, 12 have been hired.

    But none were hired this year to replace the two black coaches who were fired — Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Lovie Smith in Chicago — and the one fired black GM, Rod Graves in Arizona.

    Herm Edwards, former coach of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs and now an ESPN analyst, has called for not only revising the rule but perhaps even changing its name.

    “When you use the Rooney Rule and not correctly, you put a little bit of a bad mark on Mr. Rooney’s name, and that is not good,” Edwards said Wednesday. “If it keeps going this way, we might need to take his name off the rule. It is not being used in the right manner that Mr. Rooney meant it to be.”

    Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources, said that the hiring results were “disappointing” and that he expects to make revisions in the rule.

    The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.

    Unlike Dungy and Edwards, Jim Caldwell is still coaching, albeit as an assistant. Not only that, his team, the Baltimore Ravens, will play the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But he wasn’t even invited to interview for one of the eight vacant coaching jobs, though having a team in the playoffs can be a hindrance to such opportunities.

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