A revision to the Rooney Rule, which promotes inclusive hiring in the NFL, will be in place before the start of the offseason to eliminate the potential for teams hiring coaches and personnel executives to exploit loopholes.
The NFL plans to institute an approved list of candidates for teams to work from while also accepting their choice to interview candidates from outside their own organization.
The validity of candidates for openings commonly has been called into question. Last year, when the Oakland Raiders intended to hire Jon Gruden as head coach, owner Mark Davis was ridiculed for interviewing coaches who were not being seriously considered over Gruden. Davis said he interviewed then-Southern Cal offensive coordinator Tee Martin — not viewed as a realistic candidate — and Raiders tight ends coach Bobby Johnson.
An NFL investigation found no wrongdoing under the existing Rooney Rule.
The NFL describes the history of the Rooney Rule as such: instituted by the NFL in 2003, the rule requires teams to interview at least one candidate of color for open head coaching and general manager positions.
Under the altered rule, the Fritz Pollard Alliance will provide a list of black assistant coaches worthy of consideration for each hiring cycle.
The NFL, in turn, will compile a separate list using a career development advisory panel.
“It’s a co-mingling of both of the lists, so it’s not all minority,” Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten said. “What we’ve done is brought the best together ... so it comes out on one list. And that’s what will be given to all the clubs. It will make it easier for them to interview the best people.”
Teams still can interview in-house candidates for openings. However, the rule aims to establish or define candidates as qualified.
“It needed to be strengthened,” Wooten said. “Any rule that you don’t adjust, that you don’t update when it needs to be updated, people will find a way to circumvent it.”
—Field Level Media