Examining the past 20 years of race in the NFL coaching ranks

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NotThisRooneyRule Examining the past twenty years of race in the NFL coaching ranks

Any controversy surrounding the Rooney Rule in recent years has been less than fiery – criticisms boil to the surface here and there, but it is one of the NFL’s less divisive issues. The only people who bring it up in a negative light are those concerned about “affirmative action” issues (which the Rule isn’t) or those who believe that we, as a culture, ought to do away with such rules and regulations in an attempt to move past the issue of race and gender equity in the workplace.

This analysis of the Rooney Rule is not meant to be broad, sweeping social commentary – I am a sportswriter, after all, and I ought to stick to the lighter side of things, lest I get into trouble. Below are the facts of the decade before the Rooney Rule and the near decade since – statistics about hires, a few anecdotes, and hopefully some perspective on why I believe the Rooney Rule is great for the NFL and should not be done away with any time soon.

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From the start of the 1993 season through the 2001-02 NFL season, 74 coaching changes were made. Of those 74 job changes, 6 positions were filled with minorities – and only 4 different men constituted that group: Ray Rhodes (Eagles, Packers), Tony Dungy (Buccaneers, Colts), Herm Edwards (Jets), and Terry Robiskie, an interim head coach with the Redskins at the end of the 2000-01 season. The only other minority head coaches in football history were Fritz Pollard (way back in 1921), Denny Green of the Vikings, Art Shell of the Raiders and Tom Flores of the Seattle Seahawks.

The Rooney Rule went into effect during the 2002-03 offseason and states, simply, that any team filling a head coaching vacancy must interview a minority candidate during the job search. Caveats are made for teams filling the position from within (so long as the one being promoted is a minority, a la Mike Singletary or Leslie Frazier). Read more here…

 Examining the past twenty years of race in the NFL coaching ranks
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