Connect with us


DeMaurice Smith says NFL should eliminate Rooney Rule for diverse hiring practices: ‘The system is broken’

Outgoing NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Wednesday published a paper that, among other things, called for the league to eliminate its controversial Rooney Rule.

Smith, who co-authored the nearly 100-page paper with his Yale teaching assistant Carl Lasker, called the rule largely ineffective since its 2003 inception. The rule mandates NFL teams interview ethnic minority candidates for coaching and front office positions.

At the time it went into effect, there were two Black head coaches in the NFL. Twenty years later, there are four minority coaches.

The 14-year NFLPA director, soon to be replaced by Lloyd Howell, called for sweeping reforms to the league’s hiring practices in lieu of the Rooney Rule. Indeed, he described it as a “suggestion” for teams, as opposed to an enforceable mandate.

MORE: What is the NFL’s Rooney Rule?

“The NFL’s system is broken,” Smith wrote in his paper (via Yahoo! Sports). “To fix it, owners need to abandon the Rooney Rule and replace their unchecked discretion with comprehensive requirements to eliminate discrimination, ensure fairness, improve diversity, and build an equitable, transparent, and accountable system.

“Mandating transparent processes and protocols with clear goals and implementing an accountability-based system that punishes non-compliance should improve diversity in the NFL, and it will most certainly lead to a system that is fairer than the one that currently exists.”

Smith and Lasker offered several suggestions for the NFL to adopt in its new hiring practices. Among them:

  • Requiring all coaching, senior and executive positions be posted with specific job descriptions and held open for at least 30 days.
  • Requiring head coaching and coordinator positions be filled after a certain number of days after the Super Bowl, ensuring equal opportunity for candidates to apply for open positions.
  • Adopting a consistent, transparent system “that fairly evaluates talent, constrains team ownership from engaging in unlawful and/or meaningless ‘check the box’ protocols, and enforces a deliberate, professional and accountable system.”
  • Eliminating “any rule, custom, or practice requiring coaches to seek permission from team owners to apply for jobs with other teams.”
  • Selecting an outside monitor to periodically audit team hiring processes and publish its findings.
  • Requiring NFL’s chief diversity officer to develop league-wide job descriptions, uniform standards for contracts, objective guidelines and lawful interview questions.
  • Adopting strict and significant punishment systems for team and league officials, with fines starting at $5 million and escalating for individuals and teams who violate the adopted system.
  • Developing uniform and consistent evaluation guidelines for all coaching, senior and executive positions.
  • Developing and implementing policies limiting nepotism.
  • Dropping league’s opposition to coaches unions.
  • Annually, evaluate coaches who are interested in a position change to evaluate their qualifications, and have teams provide a justifiable basis for hiring decisions.

MORE: Who is Lloyd Howell? What to know about new NFLPA leader

The Rooney Rule has been controversial since its inception in 2003, with some critics bemoaning the fact the league adopted a rule based on affirmative action. Others, such as Smith, have called the rule ineffective (a point underscored by the number of Black head coaches remaining low throughout the last two decades).

The rule came under fire in 2022 after former Miami coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and its teams. The suit alleged discriminatory hiring practices against Black and racial minority candidates.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement here

Must See

More in Football