- The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The NFL approved a series of changes Tuesday to the Rooney Rule, an effort aimed at improving the league’s diversity within the coaching and executive ranks. 

Starting next season, the league will change its anti-tampering policy, which will now allow for teams to speak to assistant coaches for coordinator positions without being blocked. Before, teams had to grant permission for coaches under contract to be interviewed. The change is intended to help minority candidates gain promotions at a faster rate. 

Moving forward, NFL teams must now interview two external minority candidates for head coaching positions and at least one minority candidate for any of coordinator vacancy (offense, defense or special teams), things they did not have to do previously.

The NFL also extended the Rooney Rule to apply to a wide-range of executive positions. Clubs must interview minority or female candidates for any of the following roles: Club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions.

The NFL first adopted the Rooney Rule, named after the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, in 2003, but it had faced criticism in recent years for not extending far enough. 

Only three head coaches are black in a league where three quarters of its players are black. Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera was the only minority head coach hired this offseason. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged the criticism in the past and did so again in a statement Tuesday announcing the changes.

While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more,” Goodell said. “The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”

The changes were approved at the NFL’s virtual owners meetings. 

While those rules were adopted, the league tabled discussion of a proposal that incentivized better draft compensation for hiring minority coaches and executives.

NFL.com’s Jim Trotter reported last week that the owners were considering a plan that would have teams move up as many as 16 spots (six for a head coach, 10 for a head executive) in the third round of the draft if such moves were made. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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