NFL meetings: Rooney Rule updated to include female candidates

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney ll stands on the field before a game.
Art Rooney II says there has been progress in minority hiring, but the NFL needs to do better.
(Joe Sargent / Getty Images)

The NFL announced changes Monday to the Rooney Rule in an effort to increase the number of minority candidates to be considered for coaching and front-office vacancies.

The category of minority candidates now will include women. Also, in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirements, an interview for head coaches and general managers must take place in person as opposed to virtually.

Currently, there are five minority head coaches: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Washington’s Ron Rivera, Houston’s Lovie Smith, Miami’s Mike McDaniels and Robert Saleh of the New York Jets.


“In general, I’d say that we have positives and negatives in terms of the hiring cycle,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II, whose late father, Dan Rooney, was credited with creating the Rooney Rule.

“We’ve seen progress in certain areas over the last couple of years. Certainly, the number of minorities that are interviewing for senior positions in the league has increased significantly over the last couple of years …

It appears the NFL has momentum from team owners and coaches to approve a rule change for both teams to have possession of the ball in overtime.

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“Obviously, we’re still not seeing the kind of progress that we would like to see on the head coaching front and so we have been focusing on that effort and how we can improve the processes.”

The league also will require all teams to hire a minority coach or woman to serve as an offensive assistant in hopes of deepening the pool of potential head coaching candidates. The league will participate in funding these assistants.

“It’s a recognition that at the moment we do look at stepping stones for a head coach that are coordinator positions,” Rooney said. “We clearly have a trend where our head coaches are coming from the offensive side of the ball in recent years and we clearly do not have as many minorities in the offensive coordinator positions.

“So, without oversimplifying it, it’s really an effort to try to bring more talented minority coaches to the offensive side of the ball. Both within the league and hopefully attract those talented individuals from the college ranks.”


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The NFL also pledged to do what it could to increase diversity among team owners, saying that when evaluating a prospective ownership group “the membership will regard it as a positive and meaningful factor if the group includes diverse individuals who would have a significant equity stake in and involvement with the club, including serving as the controlling owner of the club.”