Rooney’s Rule to play by

If you’ve been paying attention to some news over the past week, you would have realized that there is no news that is as important as Manti and the case of the disappeared girlfriend. If you were able to stomach all that, and move on to even more news, you were confronted with a very apologetic Lance Amstrong, readily admitting he had the ball to lie to us for so long. Dive a little deeper than that, even, and you might have found something about how the NFL doesn’t think it is diverse enough.

I’m a frequent visitor to ProFootballTalk.com, and their main guy, Mike Florio, has taken to this story like crazy. In the past few weeks, I’ve probably seen around 10 posts concerning this subject. If you ask me? Complete non issue. Of course, PFT does not ask me, and that’s why I keep feeling so butt hurt over the fact that they delete 9 out of every 10 of my comments. I swear I try to play nice, I really do! But anytime you see a website that has a posting etiquette consist of “no sarcasm”, odds are my words aren’t going to be heard.

So the main question to ask: Does the NFL have a diversity issue? Well, looking at the demographic of players, the only rational conclusion is no. Okay, well what if we were to look at the front office/coaching staffs? Probably a little more one sided, admittedly. So is it an issue? Are we really worried the NFL teams are being racists, refusing to allow minorities to don a headset and bark out plays? Nah, son. Nah.

Can you imagine a guy like Jerry Jones, as competitive as he is, sitting there paying millions upon millions of dollars to have minorities perform on the field, but completely balking at hiring a qualified candidate for a coaching position, simply because of the color of skin? In today’s day and age, I just can’t see it. You are just implying too big of a disconnect, one I don’t think is possible. This is less of an issue about race, and more of an issue about qualification.

While I completely understand the good intention of the Rooney Rule (to allow for minorities to receive opportunities that they might not have), is that really such a great thing? I know the thought process is that by giving them a chance they normally wouldn’t have might, for all intents and purposes, make them a more viable candidate to get the job later on. Good intent, for sure. But what if minorities aren’t getting interviews for the same reason that those interviewed aren’t getting hired? What if they just aren’t the best men for the job? Shouldn’t that be the main consideration, regardless of race?

Instead, to hear the NFL or PFT say it, there are plenty of perfectly capable candidates that just aren’t given the chance. I can’t buy that. A racist owner would have a hell of a time getting anything done in professional sports. So, instead, we are asking for unqualified candidates to be given interview time (in place of a more qualifed applicant, one would imagine) in order to fill a quota. They aren’t getting hired. They know it. The team knows it. So what purpose does it serve? Does anyone feel like this somehow prevents discrimination?

This is a dangerous line of thinking, one that has taken root in today’s society. Instead of trying to bring the back of the line up to speed with the front, we are purposefully holding back the front of the line to allow the back to catch up. We aren’t raising the floor, we’re lowering the ceiling. Imagine this: we wouldn’t even be around as a human race if our primitive ancestors waited around for the slowest of the bunch every time there was a predator around. Sometimes, you don’t deserve to be rewarded if you can’t do the job. An individual has to make himself prepared. You can keep trying to inject diversity into your coaching staffs, NFL, but until the coaches themselves turn out to be viable candidates, they will continue to not get hired.

What is the deal with the quota anyways? Why is race even an issue, instead of best man for the job? If we keep going in this direction, pretty soon we’ll see something like this from the NFL:

It is the new league policy that before a team makes a hire of any standing, from custodial service on up to the front office, they have to interview at least one person from every one of the 196 known countries in the world. We realize that this will make it a nightmare to, you know, get anything done, ever, but we insist on being the most diverse place to work in the world!

Meanwhile, you look at the cornerback position in the NFL, and realize that there is maybe one white guy. In the entire NFL. How come we aren’t trying to diversify that position? Why aren’t teams required to have at least one white guy try to land on the squad as a cornerback each year? How come we aren’t clamoring for more Asians and Native Americans in the sport? How come whenever NFL says “minority”, what they really seem to be saying is “black”? What needs to be done is to have an accurate representation of the US demographic at every level, top to bottom. Coaches/front office/Running Back/Wide Receiver/Quarterback/Cornerback/etc. That means each and every one of those positions should be comprised of 64% white/ 17% hispanic/ 13% black/ 5% Asian/ and 1% Native American. To do anything else without aiming for this goal (looking at you, Rooney Rule) and all your doing is paying lip service.

Perhaps the most telling thing about this whole rule comes with the report of a newly proposed expansion of the Rooney Rule to include coordinator hires. In this newly proposed plan, the advocacy group makes mention of including an exception to the rule, saying that newly hired head coaches wouldn’t have to adhere to the rule when filling out their staff. If even advocates to this rule want to include an exception that basically nullifies the rule, doesn’t that tell you a little something? In fact, Rooney himself made a point of mentioning that his Mike Tomlin hire was in no way related to the Rooney Rule. If the guy who has the rule named after him doesn’t even bother to credit the dang thing when hiring a minority coach, then what is the point?

Enough, NFL. You aren’t defending anyone’s honor with this Rooney Rule. You are only elongating the hiring process. Worse than that, you’re giving Mike Florio a soapbox to talk from, even though I would never dream to visit his site for social commentary.

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