The NFL needed a change.  The diversity of the players participating in the NFL increased during the 1990s to the point where they were the majority of the field.  However, this did not correlate with the top position on the team; the coach.  The coaches remained in perfect uniform.  Most of them were middle aged white males.

There was only one reasonable way to combat this.  The NFL didn’t want to force teams to hire a minority coach.  That solution seemed a bit unethical and yet they wanted to fight this lack of diversity.  So they came up with a strategic plan that could help owners open up their minds and eliminate any unconscious bias they might be carrying.  Within this rule they also wanted to slow down the process of hiring a new coach so that the team can come to an intelligent decision.

Jeff Fisher has been the head coach for the Tennessee Titans since 1994

Fight the Lack of Diversity

Many minority candidates that wanted a head coaching position were having a lot of trouble finding places to even get an interview for the job.  According to Scott Brown, “Before the Rooney Rule, interviews with minority head coaching and GM candidates that are conducted now might never have taken place.”

In making this comment, Scott Brown explains to us that the Rooney Rule was created to provide minorities a chance to be interviewed and that many interviews that have taken place in recent years are due to this rule.  It is very important to get minorities the basic opportunities to receive a fair shot at obtaining a job.

Open Up the Minds of the Owners

The rule needed to be made to introduce or ‘open up the minds’ of owners to realize that ethnic background should not be a factor in choosing a new head coach.  John Smallwood proposed that the rule wasn’t meant to guarantee anything to anyone.  It was just a way to help the owners realize that there are more candidates out there than just middle aged white males.  The rule also puts these minorities on the same playing field as everyone else.

It is extremely important to make owners realize that they need to consider everyone.  Just because there is a candidate out there that you know or feel comfortable with, it doesn’t make them the best.  If someone is forced to see an option from another point of view, then they most likely will be upset at first.  However, once they realize that the other option is a good one, they will be thankful.  And if they don’t like the option, then they can just decide to go with the first option.  At least they were able to make the decision based on personal evidence instead of prejudice.

Eliminate Unconscious Bias

Another key in the creation of the rule was to eliminate unconscious bias.  Someone that is unaware of a bias may think they are doing anything wrong.  An owner might interview only majority candidates without even thinking about it.  This is a problem that the rule is aimed at solving.  John Smallwood agrees when he writes, “Because unconscious bias is unintentional and not easily recognizable, it will not disappear unless specifically addressed.”

Basically, John Smallwood is suggesting that a plan or rule in this case, needs to be created in order for someone with an unintentional prejudice to break that prejudice.  Getting rid of a bias is a tough thing to do, but the Rooney Rule is formed to combat this problem.

Slow Down the Process

Tony Dungy was the first African American to win the Super Bowl

Among the rule’s many intentions, slowing down the process of choosing a head coach was part of the idea.  Tony Dungy, former African American head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, believed that the process needed to be slowed down to help make a confident decision.

It seems as though many teams today know who they want to hire.  Sometimes it seems as if they know the person they want to hire before they’ve even fired the current coach.  This is completely immoral and needs to be dealt with.  The Rooney Rule provides one way in which the owners are forced to slow the process down and consider all the options fairly.

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