There were eight available head coaching and seven general manager jobs in the NFL at the conclusion of the season, and not one went to a minority.
That fact could lead the NFL to alter the Rooney Rule, but how it is implemented remains to be seen. The rule requires NFL teams to interview minority coaches, which every team abided by during their searches, yet NFL vice president of human resources Robert Gulliver expressed his dismay in a statement on Friday that not one minority was hired.
“While there has been full compliance with the interview requirements of the Rooney Rule and we wish the new head coaches and general managers much success, the hiring results this year have been unexpected and reflect a disappointing lack of diversity,” Gulliver said. “The Rooney Rule has been a valuable tool in expanding diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, but there is more work to do, especially around increasing and strengthening the pipeline of diverse candidates for head coach and senior football executive positions.
“We have already started the process of developing a plan for additional steps that will better ensure more diversity and inclusion on a regular basis in our hiring results. We look forward to discussing these steps with our advisers to ensure that our employment, development and equal opportunity programs are both robust and successful.”
The rule was named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and was put into effect in 2003 in the hopes to expand the breadth of diversity within the league coaching circles.
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Currently, four head coaches in the NFL are minorities: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, and Carolina’s Ron Rivera.
Former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who is African American, was considered a top candidate and met with several teams for their opening. He was not signed, and reports Friday suggest he was incensed after Arizona decided to go with Bruce Arians as their next head coach. Arians reportedly let Horton go, to avoid a riff in the Cardinals' locker room.
Another top minority candidate was Lovie Smith, who was fired from the Chicago Bears after nine years. Smith reportedly met with San Diego, Buffalo, and Philadelphia regarding their vacancies, but went unhired.