The leaders of the watchdog group that oversees minority hiring in the NFL has asked the league to expand the Rooney Rule, which requires teams with a head coaching or general manager vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance is asking that the Rooney Rule cover not only GM and head coaching vacancies, but most all vacancies for offensive and defensive coordinator positions. The request comes after eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager vacancies were recently filled -- none by minorities.
Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Wooten is chairman of the alliance. He told the Plain Dealer the watchdog group hopes to see change come quickly.
"What disturbs us the most is No. 1, Lovie Smith was fired with a 10-6 record," Wooten told the Plain Dealer. "How many teams would have done back flips for a record like that? And Jim Caldwell, who went 14-2 with the Colts (2009) and has since taken over as OC with the Ravens, and look what they're doing. He couldn't even get an interview."
All teams with vacancies this offseason complied with the Rooney Rule, yet the results have left at least one general manager questioning the intent of the rule.
Reggie McKenzie is one of five black general managers (Raiders) and wondered whether some candidates are getting interviewed "just to satisfy the rule."
"The bottom line is trying to get guys to work hard, to identify guys who are worthy of getting an interview," McKenzie told CSNBayarea.com. "Instead of, you know, hiring guys that they know. This just kind of widens the door a little bit. But just to do something just to satisfy the rule? I don't like that at all."
Wooten and alliance executive director former Giants linebacker and Hall of Famer Harry Carson view the coordinator aspect of the rule as a step to put more candidates in the pipeline.
In their letter to the league, the Wooten and Carson say:
"In particular, far too few minority coaches have been given offensive coordinator and play-calling responsibilities, and in this quarterback-dominated era it seems clubs are increasingly looking for offensive coaches to fill head coaching positions. Without this expansion of the Rooney Rule, it is hard for us to see minority coaches in the league getting the head coaching opportunities they deserve."
The alliance also proposed a front-office symposium to train coaches and front-office candidates about future opportunities. Minorities would make up at least half of this group.
The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and named after Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who was instrumental in its implementation.