Business As Usual In The NFL

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: February 1, 2008

CALIFORNIA — The NCAA Division I-A football head coaching merry go round ended in the first week of January. The NFL’s is still in progress as four coaches (Joe Gibbs, Bobby Petrino, Cam Cameron, and Brian Billick) have either resigned or been fired in the last four weeks.

This feat was accomplished with little or no fan fare and also completed with little regard of the 1992 NFL Rooney Rule. These teams hired new head coaches this month within a marginal amount of time and very few interviews.

The blatant question is did these teams skirt the 1992 Rooney Rule? This rule clearly states that each team must interview one minority candidate. The Rooney Rule opened up opportunities for minority head coaches in a majority white ownership and management environment.

This creative rule produced a job for talented defensive coach Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and gave the opportunity for the Bengals to be winners again.

//<![CDATA[ //]]> The list below are the new head coaches and their respective teams:

Washington: Jim Fassel (pending).

— Atlanta: Mike Smith.

Miami: Tony Sparano.

— Baltimore: John Harbaugh.

Obviously not a single African American is on this list of new hired coaches. The number of African American head coaches remains at six, the same number for the 2008-2009 football seasons.

What happened and where was the committment by the NFL to the Rooney Rule? If Commissioner Goodell steps up to the plate and stop this practice by owners, what would the results be?

There is a new phenomenon happening in the NFL now. It is called pre-determined head coaching position. The owners are now telling their teams who their future head coach will be, prior to when their current head coach is either fired or decides to retire.

The Indianapolis Colts are also partaking in this misguided and manipulative practice. When Tony Dungy retires or is fired Colts assistant coach Jim Caldwell (African American) will take his place. The Colts administration have stated this fact many times.

//<![CDATA[ //]]> Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders is currently trying to relieve rookie coach Lane Kiffin of his job. Rumors have stated that Davis wanted former Arizona Cardinal Head coach Dennis Green (another African American) to take the helm because two years ago.

Kiffin persuaded Davis to trade the disgruntled wide receiver Randy Moss to the New England Patriots. How is that working out Oakland? The Raiders were in last place in the AFC West for the fourth straight year while Moss and the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.

Green and Caldwell are the only two African Americans being considered under this new clandestine program. The Cowboys and several other teams have already bypassed the Rooney Rule and have appointed a successor to be their current head coach.

Commissioner Goodell should take a stand immediately and stop the manipulation of the rule before every team uses this seedy practice. The owners and team administrators have the right to select their own head coaches.

They should leave the door open for interviewing minority candidates as part of the process. The question should be asked how will the NFL will mandate or enforce the Rooney Rule or will the league just let teams slide?