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Black former NFL coaches say league must revisit minority hiring procedures

02.01.13 at 11:15 am ET

Black former NFL coaches are saying the league needs to revisit its minority hiring procedures after 15 top vacancies — eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager jobs — have been filled by white candidates this offseason.

Former Colts coach Tony Dungy, former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, and current Ravens assistant coach Jim Caldwell have said recently that the 2003 Rooney Rule — under which each NFL team has to interview at least one minority candidate for a coaching or general manager opening, according to the vision of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney — isn’t working the way it should.

“When you use the Rooney Rule and not correctly, you put a little bit of a bad mark on Mr. Rooney’s name, and that is not good,” Edwards, now an ESPN analyst, said Wednesday. “If it keeps going this way, we might need to take his name off the rule. It is not being used in the right manner that Mr. Rooney meant it to be.”

Before the rule went into effect in 2003, the NFL had had six minority coaches in more than 80 years. In the years since then, 12 have been hired. But when two black coaches and one black GM — Romeo Crennel of the Chiefs, Lovie Smith of the Bears and Rod Graves of the Cardinals, respectively — were fired after this offseason, all were replaced by white candidates.

“That’s one of the reasons that the Rooney Rule was put in place, because you’re trying to avoid those situations, if possible,” Caldwell said. “We’re at that stage where guys like Lovie Smith, who didn’t get an opportunity, who had won and been very successful previously … obviously, there’s some concern there, and that’s why I think the rule is going to be revisited.”

There are now four minority coaches in the NFL: the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Vikings’ Leslie Frazier, the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis and the Panthers’ Ron Rivera.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority NFL coaches and other employees, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and team president positions.

Dungy pointed out that 21 coaching jobs have changed in a three-year timespan, indicating that owners aren’t considering any of their hires thoroughly enough, regardless of race.

NFL executive vice president of human resources Robert Gulliver called the hiring results this offseason “disappointing” and said he expects to revise the rule.

“I am not saying you have to hire a minority candidate. No one is saying that,” Edwards said. “I am saying you can’t be blinded. It can’t be, ‘Who is the guy to interview to get this out of the way?’ The problem I have is you don’t really abide by the Rooney Rule the correct way.”

Read More: Herm Edwards, Rooney Rule, Tony Dungy,