On the Tunney Side of the Street 43

by Jim Tunney

After Further Review ...

Established in 2003, the Rooney Rule requires all National Football League clubs (teams) to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations opportunities. The rule was named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and now (is also) the United States Ambassador to Ireland, who persuaded NFL ownership to interview minority candidates for these high level positions.

At first, my thought was this rule was never needed. You see, I was raised in a family who never thought about "color." My dad was a high school coach who had Kenny Washington as his star player at Lincoln High School (Los Angeles) in the 1930s. Washington, with help from my dad, went to U.C.L.A. and then became one of the first African American players in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. My own history is similar having played on teams with no thought about ethnicity, then later I became a high school coach at an East Los Angeles school where the minorities were the majority. So, while the Rooney Rule was questionable, I do understand the implications and the need, unfortunately, of its necessity.

I remember refereeing games when the Los Angeles Rams had a black QB named James Harris with the "word" being that a black didn't have the "smarts" to lead a T*E*A*M to victory. How ridiculous! Unfortunately, it was that kind of thinking that lead to the Rooney Rule. But now its 2011 - is the rule still applicable today? Will we ever get to a time when it will not be needed? I hope so.

However, if the rule is to promote opportunities, should all who have at least the minimum qualifications be entitled to interview for the job? An example might be the Minnesota Vikings head coaching job which was granted to Leslie Frazier without other candidates being interviewed. Frazier, who is black and held the job of Vikings defensive coordinator when head coach Brad Childress was fired is, indeed, qualified. The issue here is NOT about him. It's about the process. Should other candidates, minority or otherwise, have been given the opportunity to interview for the Vikings job?

Will you look at job openings as equal opportunity for everyone?