An organization called America First Legal (AFL) has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) over its “Rooney Rule.” This is an NFL policy named for its originator and then owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the late Dan Rooney. It states that all NFL teams must interview at least one minority candidate for all head coaching positions.
AFL asserted in a press release that the Rooney Rule is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits hiring practices that limit, segregate, or classify applicants for employment because of race, color, and/or sex.” They have filed the complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) February 7, 2024
Since 2003 when the Rooney Rule was first put in place, many teams would interview Black candidates simply to check the box. Indeed even Urban League President Marc Morial has stated in a 2022 interview that “the effect of the Rooney Rule has been for team decision-makers to regard interviews with candidates of color as an extraneous step, rather than an integral part of the hiring process.”
Other advocates for minority causes concur, such as the former head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, whose opinion was referenced in the AFL complaint.
Many social justice activists express indignation over the lack of minority “representation” in NFL head coaching, yet reality tells a different story.
There are six Black NFL head coaches headed into 2024. There are 32 NFL teams, which means that about 19% of head coaches are Black. About 13% of the United States is Black, so the number of NFL head coaches is a very fair representation of the population at large. Only those who demand overrepresentation would deem the NFL racist for having “only” six Black head coaches.
On the other hand, 54% of NFL players are Black, yet there is no discernable outcry due to over-representation. There is no need for a “Rooney Rule” for player selection.
Conversely, about 6% of the United States is Asian, yet only 0.1% of NFL players are Asian. There is no perceived urgency that this “underrepresentation” be addressed.
Indeed, concerns about NFL “representation” seem very selective and entirely driven by fashionable social justice trends.
Unlike the social justice emphasis placed on coaching, player selection in the NFL has always been a meritocracy. The result is that the NFL players’ demographics do not resemble the population at large. Artificial diversity is not a strength in any endeavor.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is known for pandering to all things woke, has on numerous occasions lent his voice to the echo chamber of “diversity makes us stronger at every level.” He reaffirmed his continued support for the Rooney Rule this week via a spokesperson.
The AFL suit is one of numerous encouraging signs that the relentless wave of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) infesting sports, film, and corporate culture may be coming to an end.
Many would say it’s about time the NFL was sued over its silly and counterproductive rule.