Thursday, January 28, 2010

The NFL Rooney Rule and the shortage of black coaches

The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and is named for Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL diversity committee. The rule requires all 32 NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations opportunities. The biggest question is why isn't this rule working?

In the past 4 years, there have been 4 black head coaches to go to the Super Bowl(thank you Rob Parker) and as of right now, 2 of those 4 have led their team to a Super Bowl victory. In spite of this, there are only 5 active black head coaches today. There's not a lack of talent, experience, or leadership when it comes to head coaching or even coordinating jobs especially not when anyone does a little research.

There's a handful of black men when it comes to active head coach, assistant head coach, and offensive and defensive coordinator jobs. There are men like Curtis Modkins who is the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills who coached RB Tashard Choice at Georgia Tech and worked with P.J. Daniels, a walk-on who became 4th leading rusher in Georgia Tech history and a 2 time all-conference selection. There's also Ron Meeks who is the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers who served the same position in Indianapolis from 2002-2008 and helped the Colts to win a Super Bowl when Tony Dungy was the head coach. Between all of the black head coaches and coordinators, black men have helped their teams win 7 Super Bowl victories. Romeo Crennel helped the Patriots win 3 Super Bowls and Crennel has been in 5 Super Bowl wins, yet his 24-40 record as head coach of the Cleveland Browns proves that you're only as good as the people around you.

So, who's to blame for the extreme lack of black head coaches? Should we consider Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, to be the devil or should we hold a march in New York at the NFL head offices? No, because those would just be more ignorant moves. The true villain in this are the 27 team owners who thumb their noses at the Rooney rule and ignore the talent and leadership shown by men like Winston Moss, the assistant head coach of Green Bay, Leslie Frazier, the assistant head coach of Minnesota and other men like them who have proven their worth in landing an NFL head coaching position.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for men like Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Brian Billick who are all former coaches that have won Super Bowls, yet these are mainly the only names anyone hears when a head coaching job is vacated. There are far too many active coaches and coordinators on the pro and college level for team owners not to seriously invest their time and money trying to get these intelligent leaders.

The sad truth is that in spite of the facts and any passionate speech anyone can give in regards to more black head coaches being in the NFL, the burden of proof rests in the hands of the owners of the teams. It is the owner who either hires the head coaches themselves or they hire the presidents and general managers who do the hiring of the team personnel. No one, not even Goodell himself, can force a team owner to hire personnel that the owner doesn't want to. The only chance that we will see more black head coaches is with the further success of the current active coaches and coordinators seeing how many teams try to copy the success of other teams.

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