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NFL Expands Rooney Rule to Include Quarterbacks Coaches

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Steelers President Art Rooney II

The NFL has expanded the league’s Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview minority candidates for certain positions, adding quarterbacks coach to the list of applicable positions for the first time.

The change stems from the spring league meetings and an ongoing attempt by the NFL to address a perceived lack of diversity among the league’s owners, executives, general managers and head coaches.

The Rooney Rule was first established in 2003 and has been modified and expanded several times throughout its history. The basic premise of the rule is that teams must interview external minority candidates when hiring for critical positions.

In 2009, the rule, which was originally intended to just address head coaching, was expanded to all senior football operations positions, and also addressed all ethnic minorities, not just African Americans.

In 2020, the requirements of the rule were doubled to two external minority candidates for head coaching jobs, added coordinators to the list of positions under the rule’s guidance, and allowed for female candidates to satisfy the rule’s requirements for the first time. Additionally, the NFL added draft pick compensation for teams whose minority candidates are hired away.

Earlier this offseason, the NFL mandated that each team must have at least one minority offensive coach, as offensive coaches have been more sought after for head coaching positions in recent years. The addition of quarterbacks coach to the Rooney Rule requirements is also designed to help with that issue.

The rule is named for former Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who helped guide its initial installation. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is the longest-tenured Black head coach in the NFL, and at one point this offseason, was the league’s only Black coach. Since then, Todd Bowles, Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith have all been hired as head coaches. Additionally, Robert Saleh is Lebanese-American and Ron Rivera is hispanic.

Despite the change to get more minorities in positions around the league, there are many who claim that the rule doesn’t do enough, or is too easy to get around .Former Miami Dolphins head coach and current Steelers defensive assistant and linebackers coach, Brian Flores, is one of those people. Flores argues that many minority candidates are just going in for sham interviews, as the teams already know the candidate they are going to hire and just interview them so they don’t get in trouble with the league. Flores and others are currently involved in a lawsuit against the NFL regarding discrimination against minorities in the hiring practices of the league’s coaches.

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