The late Art Rooney, who owned the Pittsburgh Steelers for decades before he passed and left the team within the family, used his respect, power and knowledge to somehow get his fellow owners to approve a mandate that a minority candidate must be interviewed for any open head coach or general position.
The result of his work is gifted with his name: The Rooney Rule.
Soon after this rule was adopted, Rooney not only interviewed a minority candidate, he hired a black, gifted assistant coach named Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin made good on that interview and hiring by rewarding his employer with a Super Bowl championship, multiple playoff appearances and advancement of the Steelers franchise as one of the NFL’s finest.
But Rooney’s legacy in support of minority candidates is not perfect. In fact, it has put deserving black coaches in a position of accepting job interviews for a job they know will not be theirs.
Regardless of when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones formally parted ways with Jason Garrett, that job has been open since season’s end. The NFL had five head coaching positions open – the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Dallas, New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
Because former Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is Hispanic, Washington did not have to interview a minority candidate other than Rivera because he landed the job.
The Panthers interviewed African-American defensive coordinator and interim coach Perry Fewell. This fulfilled the Rooney Rule requirement, but it was owner David Tepper’s way of saying “thank you” to longtime coach Fewell.
Carolina has Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on its list of interviewees. It also includes Baylor coach Matt Rhule, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Jones and the Cowboys showed the world that the Rooney Rule can be fulfilled and totally ignored within 24 hours.
Last Friday, the Cowboys interviewed former Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. Before fans could find out how the session turned out, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was being interviewed on Saturday. He then spent the night at Jones’ home/mansion and by Monday morning he was hired.
The Cowboys only interviewed two candidates. It’s obvious the lone reason Lewis was interviewed was to satisfy the Rooney Rule.
Kris Richard, who technically still is the Cowboys’ co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, interviewed for the Giants’ job. I seriously doubt he gets that job and I’m sure he probably realizes it. But it was good for him to go through the process and it was good for the Giants to fulfill Rooney’s wishes. While it had not happened as of Tuesday morning, Bieniemy will also interview with the Giants.
My guess is that Bieniemy is the only guy that will come close to getting hired. There should be some type of reward for helping almost every team with a head coach vacancy uphold its Rooney responsibility.
And, just like Major League Baseball with its eight managerial openings, I would not be surprised if the NFL goes 0-for-5 on black coaching hires.
Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule was introduced as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday. While there had not been an official announcement, it was also being reported that the New York Giants will hire Joe Judge, the New England Patriots special teams coordinator and receivers coach, as its next coach. The lone head coaching job open as of Wednesday morning was for the Cleveland Browns.
Black the Halls
The National Football League will announce its 2020 Hall of Fame class on February 1 – the first day of Black History Month.
Hopefully, retired St. Louis Rams receiver Isaac Bruce will get the call to the Hall this go around.
Bruce’s career closed with him being fifth in receptions with 1,024, fourth in receiving yards with 15,208 and 12th in receiving touchdowns with 91. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,338 in 1996, won a Super Bowl following the 1999 season and returned to the Super Bowl two seasons later.
Because of a backlog of receivers with better career numbers – Terrell Owens primarily – Bruce had to wait.
Former Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2020 – and his numbers are close to Bruce’s.
Wayne’s resume includes 1,070 receptions, 14,345 receiving yards and 82 touchdowns. He went to six Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the Colts.
I, as should HOF voters, give the nod to Bruce over Wayne.
Meanwhile, former Rams receiver Torry Holt’s is also a finalist. His chances for enshrinement will improve when/if Bruce gets the call. But Wayne is now his nemesis in future balloting.
The retired black players joining Bruce, Holt and Wayne on the ballot are:
Steve Atwater, S -- 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets; LeRoy Butler, S -- 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers; Edgerrin James, RB -- 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks; Sam Mills, LB -- 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers; Richard Seymour, DE/DT -- 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders.
Of the 15 overall finalists, five will be elected and then honored on August 11 in Canton, Ohio.
Black the Halls II
Major League Baseball will announce its 2020 Hall of Fame Class on January 21, and former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter is a shoo-in to be elected in his first year of eligibility.
Love him or hate him, Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and we’ll see if he continues to creep upward toward the 75 percent of cast ballots to finally be honored.
The same can be said for pitcher Roger Clemens who, like Bonds, is on the ballot for an eighth time.
I share the thoughts of NBC Sports Boston writer John Tomase, who voted for both Bonds and Clemons and said without hesitation, “There's no reason to pretend either case is worth deliberating.”
“But unless and until baseball removes them from the ballot, I'm not going to treat them differently than other players no more deserving of the benefit of the doubt who have nonetheless received it.
“They were a product of their era, which was dirtier than a dip cup, and they dominated it like no other. If MLB doesn't want them in Cooperstown, that's not my problem.”
He’s right. It is MLB’s problem that many of its HOF voters allow personal bias to guide them.
By the way, MLB is proud to tell the world that 35 Negro League players are in the Hall of Fame – but of the 331 total members I could not find the total number of black players that have been enshrined.
The Reid Roundup
- Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., erupted for 25 points on an 11-for-12 shooting performance last week against the host Indiana Pacers. He looks healthy, but is playing just more than 10 minutes per game and averaging six points… Former Cowboy and current ESPN football pundit Marcus Spears said owner Jerry Jones should have targeted retired Super Bowl champion Tony Dungy for its head coaching position… It seems to me that many of the same people who say the NFL is becoming too soft, want Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney suspended for his hit on Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz last Sunday… If there was any chance of Colin Kaepernick playing again in the NFL it ended when he was highly critical of the U.S. drone attack that killed an Iranian general… There was no surprise that former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa opted to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, if I were his parents or a representative I would tell any team that wants to draft him that he will not play in 2020 while he fully recovers from his hip injury and surgery… The NFL wild card game between Seattle and Philadelphia was the most-watch program on TV since last year’s Super Bowl and ratings for the wild-card weekend NFL games were up 10 percent over last year, according to Nielsen.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1