Steelers Heir Opens Up About Changes to NFL's Rooney Rule on Minority Hiring

Laurence Holmes Show
May 20, 2020 - 2:36 pm
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(670 The Score) The Rooney Rule was expanded when NFL owners voted to approve changes Tuesday.

The expanded Rooney Rule now requires teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching positions and at least one external minority candidate for coordinator positions or lead executive roles. The adjusted policy also prohibits teams from blocking interviews for assistants seeking a bona fide promotion elsewhere.

With the Rooney Rule comes difficult discussions on race and societal issues, but it's something former Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and his family have embraced in helping bring the policy to the NFL, his son Jim Rooney said on the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score.

"My father struggled with those things too, and my brother, who's chair of the committee, and me, who's involved with this project," Rooney said. "I hope that folks of goodwill do struggle, because it's frustrating we have to do some of these things. It's sensitive. How do you do this right? My father lived with those questions."

The goal of the Rooney Rule is to offer minority candidates "a chance to wow you and you to be wowed," Jim Rooney said. It was adopted in 2003 after discussions with a number of people. As the former chairman of the NFL's diversity committee, Dan Rooney was a leading figure in pushing for its implementation. He passed away in 2017.

The Rooney family, which owns the Pittsburgh Steelers, had success with its own rule four years after it was put into place when Mike Tomlin was hired as head coach.

"We've had three coaches in 50 years," Rooney said. "And my father used the same process for each. In the one with Mike Tomlin -- we started with 37 candidates, get down to 12 and then four and then hire Mike -- my father took probably twice as long as the usual hiring process takes to make that decision. 

"Conducting a process that takes that long of time and then bringing diversity into that really allows to have an experience where you know this person might be a really good fit. The Rooney Rule is really partially designed on how my father hired three coaches in 50 years. Two of them are in the Hall of Fame, and I think Mike is on a track to go that direction.

"It's a process that I think has shown itself to work as well as any other process."

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