As a whole, the Rooney Rule has worked perfectly.  It has done what it was meant to do without pushing the envelope too far.  It doesn’t force teams to hire minority candidates; just interview them.  The NFL, along with its fans, have benefited greatly by the rule.  Many of the coaches hired because of the interview opportunities they received have already made the most of their chances with Mike Tomlin winning a Super Bowl amongst other minorities experiencing success.

The rule was formed for multiple reasons and it seems to have improved all of them.  It has increased the awareness of the lack of diversity around the league, provided more opportunities for minorities, and increased the diversity of the head coaching position as a whole.

Increasing Awareness and Diversity

Awareness around the league has increased dramatically.  Owners are starting to realize the unconscious bias they’ve had over the years and starting to overcome it.  Most team owners follow the rule full heartedly and make sure they interview minority candidates with sincerity.  They are beginning to recognize that minorities aren’t necessarily any better or worse.  All of these potential coaches have different schemes and beliefs in systems that make them unique.

Along with an increase of awareness in the NFL, there is also an increase in the diversity.  John Smallwood points out that before the Rooney Rule was implemented, only seven minority head coaches had ever held a position in the NFL.  Now there are currently six minority head coaches out of the 32 team.  Therefore, the rule has accomplished what it was set up to do.

Exploiting a Loophole

Mike Shanahan was part of an incident involving the Rooney Rule

Sometimes it seems as though the integrity of the Rooney Rule is being undermined.  Scott Brown argues that the intentions of the rule are not to just quickly interview a candidate to satisfy the rule and move on without actually considering that candidate for the job.

This is true.  Some teams have made the rule out to be a joke.  In the case of the Seattle Seahawks this year, they were in hot pursuit of Pete Carroll as their head coach.  However, they needed to interview a minority candidate to comply with the rule.  So without seeming to even think, they interviewed Leslie Frazier.

Dave Fairbank agrees when he writes, “[The] Seahawks did little more than treat it like a rest stop in their respective interstate-highway pursuit … of Pete Carroll.”  Again, Dave is pointing out that many teams treat the interview as a joke and they don’t adhere to the intentions of the rule.

Although these points are logical, I don’t believe them to be completely true.  It may seem as though some teams do not take full respect of the rule, but most of them do.  And the interviews that take place with these teams and the minority candidates are useful in more ways than one.  The interviews provide the minority head coaches with great new opportunities.

Providing Other Opportunities

It’s easy to see the few instances where teams take advantage of the rule and say that it’s not working.  However, opportunities and positive outcomes are numerous for these candidates.  According to Dana Jacobson, “By interviewing for a head coaching position your name is out there.  The more your name is connected with head coaching jobs, the more merit you’re given.”

In other words, she is saying that even if a candidate knows they have little shot of getting the job, they can still gain something by just having their name associated with a head coaching job.  Mike Lombardi seems to agree with Dana because he suggests that exposure is the best way to help obtain a future job.

Even other basic skills can be gained from these interviews.  Something as simple as going through the process of being interviewed for the position can help.  Even if they don’t get the position the interviewer may still be impressed with them as a candidate and recommend them to another team or organization.

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