Source: NFL considers closing Rooney Rule loophole


For the first time since the Rooney Rule was passed, a head-coaching vacancy has emerged after March 1. The development exposed a loophole that easily could be exploited by a team that hopes to quickly and cleanly hire a non-minority coach, without taking the time to conduct the required interviews of at least two external minority candidates.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL is considering closing the loophole.

As applied to the resignation of Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, the league permitted the team to install defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as the head coach, without interviewing at any external minority candidates. Although the end result furthers the broader goals of the Rooney Rule by resulting in the hiring of another Black head coach, the process easily could be abused.

The fix would be simple. Because assistant coaches from other teams become off limits for head-coaching interviews as of March 1, a team with a vacancy arising on or after March 1 could name an interim coach from the current staff for the upcoming season and then conduct a full search after the season concludes.

It’s the right result, and it should be implemented before an owner realizes that a simple end run around the Rooney Rule is readily available.

42 responses to “Source: NFL considers closing Rooney Rule loophole

  1. Really, a team is going to delay hiring a head coach by more than a month to avoid having to go through 2 sham interviews that are relatively painless? I don’t see it.

  2. Because a LOT of teams are going to wait until March to fire/hire a HC. They will then assemble a staff from out of work pro coaches, college and high school coaches only as that’s all that will be available. Solution in search of a problem. Nice try.
    And they’ll have missed FA, the Combine, etc. This assumes that a HC would actually like to have some say in hiring the staff, etc.

  3. The Rooney rule is a sham .. always was.. always will be.

    Closing loopholes won’t prevent a team from hiring the guy they want to .. know matter if they have to “interview” a million minorities.

  4. You can change the Rooney rule all you want. It won’t change anything. Bottom line, the owner will hire whoever he wants. As he has every right to do.

  5. The NFL should dump the ridiculous and embarrassing Rooney Rule entirely. It would be the right and moral thing to do.

  6. it seems like it would take longer and be more obvious to wait til march than to just do a box checking interview

  7. Hard to believe this situation hasn’t happened before. I want to know if the Bucs get a 3rd round comp pick..

  8. You don’t need a loophole for a rule that doesn’t have any teeth in the first place. Teams can throw whoever on the interview list and fulfill the requirement. This has been happening since Rooney rule was implemented. It equates to no real change.

  9. How about they just eliminate the stupid rule and focus instead on making sure that there are proper career advancement education and training in place.

    As a result, the minority coaches will be enable to compete for coaching positions based on their capabilities and experience, rather than the color of their skin. I suspect the vast majority of them would prefer it that way.

  10. The Rooney Rule is foolish. The person doing the hiring already knows who they are hiring. Bringing in others to fulfil the rule is a waste of time and making these other interviewees think they have a shot when they don’t.

  11. The fans don’t care about the Rooney rule or it’s loopholes. Fix the officiating. Fix the subjective calls. Fix the ticket prices and stop making tax payers pay for stadiums. Owners will hire who they want.

  12. Doesn’t an owner run the risk of losing out on a hot candidate if they wait so long?

  13. And what happens when the the interim coach goes 12 and 5 and gets into the play offs? More sham interviews. That plan just a recipe to get the league sued some more.

  14. If i’m Todd Bowles reading this column, am I happy that I’m the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or am I ambivalent?

  15. Why would an owner care about avoiding the Rooney Rule when all they have to do to comply with it is interview one additional candidate they don’t intend on hiring?

  16. Ok sure… The interim coach goes on to have a great year or wins the Superbowl and now his job has to go up for grabs to fulfill interview requirements? Never happens as proposed above.

  17. I don’t think that an interim coach for a year is going to fly with owners, at all. Say you have a team/coach situation like Cin, LA Rams, Dever, Buf, and your head coach suddenly has to retire due to an illness…Those teams are ready to compete for the SB, and now they have to run with an assistant. Not that the Patriots are ready to compete for a playoff spot, but what do you think Kraft would do if Bill B retired suddenly? I don’t think he’s going to roll with say, Joe Judge for a full season…He’s opening the checkbook & going after the best coach money can buy.

  18. With that big of a loophole it’s not a rule. It’s more of a gentle nudge. Hey look over here a min please kinda thing. Close it. Equity should be the goal.

  19. Why would owners need to use a loophole. The Rooney rule has never prevented them from hiring a candidate they really want.

  20. Cmon if you got your guy and he’s already in the building then why waste the resources?

  21. So a forward thinking team that had a plan for the next head coach will have to have ‘sham’ interviews ? It’s the same type of game playing companies pull when they know who they want to hire but have to POST the position for poor hopefuls who think they have a shot .

  22. I dont know but maybe the rule is not doing what its intended to do. Maybe get rid of it all together

  23. courbettheman says:

    If i’m Todd Bowles reading this column, am I happy that I’m the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or am I ambivalent?
    He should be happy he’s the head coach, but annoyed at Bruce Arians for the way he announced it — Arians telling Peter King that he gave Bowles a successful team with a GOAT QB sets him up for failure. If Bowles takes the team to the playoffs, it was a playoff team already (Credit to Arians and Brady). If the team has anything less than a stellar run, it will be Bowles fault.

  24. 70% black players, 80% white head coaches (if not higher).

    I’m not sure the Rooney Rule is effective, but letting the (100% white owners) just hire whoever they want has led to a pretty terrible state of racial equity in this league.

    Whether or not people want to admit it, it’s a big problem.

  25. If your head coach retires and is not fired you should be able to promote from within.

    The saints were gonna promote from within and had to do the interview process. The date of the retirement should be irrelevant unless it is during the season.

  26. ultimatefrisbee88 says:
    April 1, 2022 at 9:49 am
    70% black players, 80% white head coaches (if not higher).

    I’m not sure the Rooney Rule is effective, but letting the (100% white owners) just hire whoever they want has led to a pretty terrible state of racial equity in this league.

    Whether or not people want to admit it, it’s a big problem.


    Sometimes there are justifications for things that simple analysis do not pick up. I would be more interested to see how coaching careers work. Are most coaches former NFL players? How do most coaches get into coaching? Is it graduate assistant positions in college and working their way up? Those positions pay next to nothing. How many people progress from those positions into assistants, then coordinators, etc? Rarely will you see someone hired as a Head Coach who wasn’t either a previous head coach (at some level) or a coordinator. What percentage of coordinators are minorities? Depending on the information you find here, you could find very different reasons for the current outcome.

    Personally, I have always subscribed to the belief that we shouldnt force hires on anyone. We should create incentives. For example – High Potential Coaching Internships – finding ways to fast track top talent. Assigning mentors to high potential coaches, etc. Carrots always work better than sticks.

  27. Instead of the Rooney rule I think the top decision makers for the organization should get together and hire the candidate they feel is the right person for the job.

  28. Oh yeah… the loophole… which expedited the hiring… of a minority.

    The NFL continues to make total sense with its decision-making. /s

  29. If it is legal, it is not a loophole.

    Just hire who the decision makers think is going to be the best fit for their organization. Bowles made the most sense here, so they hired him.

  30. smoothrobinva says:
    April 1, 2022 at 5:24 pm
    White peoples are the minority in the nfl


    Not in coaching, management and ownership and those are the people who choose the most qualified to play.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.