Falcons President on Rooney Rule: ‘Where We Are Today, Is Not Acceptable’

Rich McKay

Getty President Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons.

In 2003, a rule was put into place for the NFL called the ‘Rooney Rule’ which requires every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates. However, teams have found ways around the rule.

Fast-forward nearly two decades later and all 32 NFL owners voted to strengthen the Rooney Rule on Tuesday.

In a recent conference call with the local media, Falcons president Rich McKay addressed the NFL’s problems and the failure of diversity in the hiring process.

“The Rooney Rule when it was first brought in play, (Falcons owner) Arthur Blank was on the committee,” McKay said on Tuesday. “I was on the working group. It really did have the right intended impact. Then it definitely (has) not (had) the impact as of late. It needed to be modified in certain ways. I’m supportive of that.”

Rooney Rule  Enhanced

Steelers President Art Rooney II, who is the chairman of the NFL’s Workplace Diversity Committee and the son of the author of the Rooney Rule, shared the changes to the rule (per Steelers reporter Bob Labriola):

“No. 1, we are going to ask all clubs to develop a diversity and inclusion plan over the next year that really impact all levels of hiring at the league and club levels

No. 2, we approved a series of enhancements to the Rooney Rule that will require two minority candidates to be interviewed for a head coaching position, one minority candidate to be interviewed for any coordinator position, and one minority candidate to be interviewed for any senior football or GM position, and for other senior level positions around the league and the clubs, there must be an interview for a minority or a female candidate.

No. 3, we passed a resolution that is aimed at increasing mobility throughout the league.”

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McKay on Incentives Pushed to Pass Rooney Rule

What the meeting didn’t accomplish on Tuesday are the incentives that were used to push the rule. McKay didn’t express his opinion on the draft pick proposal but hopes the NFL would continue to move in the right direction.

“What avenues that end up being, I’ll leave that to others,” McKay said. “But I do think that we need improvement, and hopefully, even the anti-tampering policies that we put forth and issues like that, putting the Rooney rule (in the forefront), whatever they may be, move us in the right direction.”

All the incentives would include that the team moves up in the draft for hiring a minority.

Examples of Incentives

Some examples of possible incentives reported by CBS Sports’ Peter King include:

•Teams hiring a minority for a GM job will have their third-round draft position improved by 10 spots in the draft in the following year.

• Teams hiring a minority as head coach will have their third-round draft position improved by six spots in the draft in the following year.

• If the coach or GM is still employed entering the third season after their hire, the team’s fourth-round selection would be improved by five spots in that year’s draft.

• A team hiring a minority as quarterback coach would receive a fourth-round compensatory pick in the following year’s draft.

• The team losing an employee to be a minority head coach or GM would receive a third-round compensatory pick, and a team losing a minority coach who moved on to be a coordinator would get a fifth-round compensatory pick, in the following year’s draft.

At the end of the day, Mckay believes that the NFL shouldn’t even be in this position right now.

“We all have to understand that where we are today is not acceptable,” McKay said on Tuesday. “We need to be better than this on the diversity front. We need to be intentional about trying to be better on that front.”

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