NFL updates, enhances Rooney rule

The NFL has updated the Rooney Rule for 2020 and beyond.

Effective immediately, the NFL will require clubs to interview "at least two external minority candidates for head coach openings and one minority candidate for any coordinator job," per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

In addition:

The Rooney Rule, named after former Steelers owner and chairman of the NFL's diversity committee Dan Rooney, was instituted in 2003 following the firings of coaches Tony Dungy and Dennis Green after the 2002 season. Under the Rooney Rule initially, NFL teams were required to interview at least one minority candidate for all head coaching vacancies. In 2009, that was expanded to include general manager/senior football operations positions, as well.

With the latest change, teams are now required to interview more minority candidates for more positions.

"The thing I think we have to look at is back when the Rooney Rule was passed and put in effect in 2003, there was a period there where we did see an increase in minority hiring at the head coaching position," Steelers owner Art Rooney II told NFL Network's Steve Wyche in January. "And I think over a period of time there were 10 or 12 minority coaches hired. Since then that trend seems to reverse itself, particularly in the last few years. We need to study what's going on and understand better what's going on and really decide how we improve the situation."

This expansion comes after a controversial offseason on this front, too. The Browns hired Kevin Stefanski, who was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2019, to serve as their head coach moving forward, while the Giants appointed Joe Judge, whose highest position was special teams coordinator/wide receivers coach, as their head coach of the future.

These selections came despite Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, an African-American, being available for hire. Under Bieniemy's watch, the Chiefs had the league's No. 1 offense in 2018 and the No. 6 offense in 2019. Oh, and they won the Super Bowl in 2019, too, scoring 31 points against the 49ers, a team which had the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense during the regular season.

While these changes to the Rooney Rule are official, they come at a time when league owners will also vote on a resolution that incentivizes minority head coaching and general manager hires. The proposal, per NFL Network's Jim Trotter, works as follows:

  • If a team hires a minority head coach, that team, in the draft preceding the coach's second season, would move up six spots from where it is slotted to pick in the third round. A team would jump 10 spots under the same scenario for hiring a person of color as its primary football executive, a position more commonly known as general manager.
  • If a team were to fill both positions with diverse candidates in the same year, that club could jump 16 spots -- six for the coach, 10 for the GM -- and potentially move from the top of the third round to the middle of the second round. Another incentive: a team's fourth-round pick would climb five spots in the draft preceding the coach's or GM's third year if he is still with the team. That is considered significant because Steve Wilks and Vance Joseph, two of the four African-American head coaches hired since 2017, were fired after one and two seasons, respectively.

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