Report: NFL changing Rooney Rule to require more interviews of minority candidates

The NFL is changing the Rooney Rule to require teams to interview more minority candidates for coaching and front-office positions, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports.

The league currently requires teams to interview one minority candidate for a head coach or general manager vacancy. Under the new rules, teams will be required to interview two external minority candidates for a head coaching position and one for a coordinator position.

Teams will also be required to interview minority and/or female candidates for senior-level executive positions such as team president. The changes will go in effect after a league meeting on Tuesday.

Draft pick proposal not mentioned

Monday’s news arrives days after a report from NFL Network’s Jim Trotter that the league was considering changes to the Rooney Rule including incentivizing hiring minority coaches by offering improved draft positioning to teams that do. That proposal was met with criticism, including from Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, one of four minorities working as a head coach in the NFL.

“I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing,” Lynn told CBS Radio on Friday. “ ... I think this is, out of desperation, this is something that has been thrown out there. It is what it is.”

There was no mention of the draft proposal in Monday’s report.

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 29:  Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy watches the action on the field during a regular season game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions on September 29, 2019 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Eric Bieniemy failing to land a head coaching gig after coordinating the Chiefs' historic offense caused an outcry this offseason. (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Why the Rooney Rule exists

The intent of the Rooney Rule is to encourage more opportunity for minority head coaches and executives in a league where 70 percent of the players are black and 28 of the 32 head coaches are white. The rule is a set in place to require team owners who tend to overlook minority candidates to sit down with them for an interview.

As established, the Rooney Rule faces criticism as franchise owners are often believed to bring in a minority candidate simply to appease the rule when they fully intend to hire a candidate they already have in mind. It also hasn’t addressed minority hiring at lower coaching levels, which appears to be the impetus for the new coordinator stipulation.

Unless hired directly out of college, it’s rare for a coach to reach the level of NFL head coach without first demonstrating success as a coordinator. If minority candidates aren’t reaching the level of coordinator, then they’re blocked from the traditional path to the top of the NFL coaching ladder.

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