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New Rooney Rule Expected To Mandate In-Person Interview For External Minority Candidates

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The NFL plans to inform owners at the league’s meeting Tuesday of new enhancements to rules to fill coaching and front office positions with minorities for the upcoming hiring cycle.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports the changes to the Rooney Rule include mandating at least one in-person interview with an external minority candidate for head coach and general manager jobs.

“The league has in recent years mandated multiple interviews with minority candidates from outside of the organization for top posts,” Pelissero reports. “But with teams embracing the shift to conducting initial interviews virtually, the NFL wants to make sure they spend more time with a diverse group, including in-person.”

The Rooney Rule, put in place in 2003, is a league policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates. The rule was expanded to include general manager jobs and equivalent front-office positions in 2009 and modified in 2018 by the NFL Workplace Diversity Committee.

The league said in a 2018 news release that the “enhancements to strengthen the Rooney Rule” include:

  1. Clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club;
  1. Clubs must continue best practice recommendation of considering multiple diverse candidates;
  1. Clubs must maintain complete records and furnish to the league upon Commissioner’s request; and
  1. If final decision-maker is involved in the beginning, he/she must be involved through the conclusion of the process.

In May, owners tabled a proposal by the Buffalo Bills to delay the head coaching cycle so interviews only take place after championship games and no hires until after the Super Bowl in February, but that proposal failed to gain traction among owners.

Pelissero reports the Bills’ proposal won’t go to a vote at these meetings but said the hope is that other changes, including the mandatory in-person interview with an external minority candidate, will have the same effect of slowing down the process and promoting diversity.

Just weeks ago, The New York Times uncovered online exchanges between the league’s General Counsel Jeff Pash and former Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen.

OutKick previously reported within Pash and Allen’s email banter were a number of racially insensitive jokes, including a derogatory exchange about the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

“Curious — is there a rule against hiring Libertarians, Independents or even a Republican?” Allen asked Pash in the emails.

“No, but it can sometimes look that way!” Pash replied.

Allen responded: “We have the Rooney rule … So I’m going to propose a Lincoln Rule at the next meeting.”

Pelissero reports there were two minority head coaches hired in the last cycle — the New York Jets’ Robert Saleh, who is Lebanese, and the Texans’ David Culley, who is black.

There also were three black general managers hired: Washington’s Martin Mayhew, the Lions’ Brad Holmes and the Falcons’ Terry Fontenot.

But there is also former NFL player and assistant coach Eugene Chung says he was told in a job interview with an NFL team this offseason that he is “not the right minority” for the league to hire.

OutKick previously reported that an interviewer from the unnamed team told Chung that the organization didn’t “look at [him] as a minority.” A recent survey pointed out that Asian Americans make up fewer than 2% of players in the NFL.

Check back with OutKick for updates.


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Written by Meg Turner

Meg graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter at @Megnturner_ and Instagram at @Megnturner.

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  1. These “minority candidates….are they white running backs or white wide receivers? Because if we’re playing the race counting game, they’re the most statistically significant underrepresented persons in the league. And it ain’t even close.

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