NFL owners tweak Rooney Rule

PHOENIX — The NFL is looking to make the Rooney Rule more effective after eight available coaching jobs and seven for general managers did not go to a minority candidate.

“We were disappointed in the results this year,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday at the owners meetings, adding the league will make some tweaks to the rule.

“We think that some of the changes we are making (are) to make sure we get the right candidates better training and we really are doing a better job of getting them in front of the people who are making the decisions.”

The Rooney Rule, implemented in 2003, was named for Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who steadfastly pushed the league to require every team to interview at least one minority candidate every time there is a coaching or general manager opening.

Before the rule went into effect, the NFL had had only six minority head coaches in more than 80 years. Since it has been in place, 12 have been hired.

But none this year, and not for a GM’s job, either. Plus, two black head coaches, Lovie Smith and Romeo Crennel, and one general manager, Rod Graves, were fired.

So one focal point for the league will be reinstating a symposium program that was primarily focused on coaches, but Goodell said likely will have some potential GM candidates also attend.

“And this will be a learning experience, this will be an opportunity for us to help give them greater tools to be able to advance their careers,” he said. “We also want to be able to give them greater feedback on the interview process.”

One unidentified club suggested to Goodell there needs to be more flexibility in the interviewing process. Teams still involved in the playoffs are very reluctant to grant permission to interview their personnel, although the NFL has established a small window for those interviews early in the postseason.

“When there’s an opening, it’s good practice to allow your best people to interview and have that opportunity to get a new job, and that will attract even better people,” Goodell said. “That’s what the whole effort here is, to give the best people the best opportunities, and that’s what everyone is asking for and looking for. I think we’re making progress on that …”

During Super Bowl week, Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources, said that the hiring results were “disappointing” and that he expects to make revisions in the rule.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.

There are currently four minority head coaches: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis and Carolina’s Ron Rivera. Minority general managers include Baltimore’s Ozzie Newsome, Detroit’s Martin Mayhew, Houston’s Rick Smith, the New York Giants’ Jerry Reese and Oakland’s Reggie McKenzie.

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