The National Football League created and implemented the Rooney Rule in 2003, in response to a series of head coaching hiring cycles in which the representation of non-white coaches had completely declined. Although he was named after Pittsburgh Steelers president Dan Rooney as the primary champion, he was far from the only one.
Now, one of those who helped create it doesn’t believe the ruler even deserves to bear Rooney’s name. Ray Anderson was an Atlanta Falcons executive in 2003 and was part of the committee that made the rule. He had harsh words about how it has worked in practice since then.
“I think they should remove the Rooney name from the rule that has no teeth left,” he told Arizona State last week, via compare.bet’s Kyle Odegard. ” It’s a shame. Mr. Dan Rooney was a real advocate and really wanted to change things. I think that does a disservice to Mr Rooney and the family.”
Although Dan Rooney died in 2017, his son, Art Rooney II, continued to be a champion for meaningful change, helping to facilitate further evolutions of the Rooney Rule, but results continued to fall short of expectations. , and we keep learning that rule execution is even worse.
“I would love to see them make some positive changes, but don’t use Mr. Rooney’s name anymore because now when you think of the Rooney Rule, quite frankly, it’s a negative perception,” Anderson said. “I think it’s offensive, personally. Mr. Rooney deserves much more.”
Currently, the NFL and several of its constituent teams are being sued, alleging racist hiring practices. Brian Flores, a current member of the Steelers coaching staff who was hired after filing the lawsuit, has since been joined by two other plaintiffs.
One is Ray Horton, a former defensive backs coach for the Steelers. He alleged the Tennessee Titans conducted a ‘sham’ interview with him for a vacant head coaching job in 2017, which Mike Mularkey, who got the job, claimed in 2020 was the case. Mularkey had already been informed that the work was his.
It was believed and assumed throughout that many minorities only received token interviews for these jobs simply to satisfy the rule. Trying to avoid that has proven impossible so far, but that’s what the lawsuit is fighting. That was certainly never the intention.
“In this room, when we were talking about the Rooney rule, we were talking about this: it cannot be short-lived; it cannot be symbolic; it has to be a deep and committed initiative that is sustainable,” Anderson said. “We thought we had an agreement and a promise on this, but over time we reverted to the same old practices.”
I imagine few people actually believe that this is how the process works. A number of people believe that the Rooney rule shouldn’t exist partly because it leads to this as an inevitability, but there seems to be near-universal agreement that it is indeed broken. Even many defenders are beginning to recognize that it’s not working. What is not agreed is what to do about it.