Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Says NFL’s Hiring System Is Racially Broken

Some people agree that desperate times call for desperate measures and with just three Black head coaches (Mike Tomlin, Anthony Lynn, Brian Flores) and two Black GM’s in a 32-team league, NFL owners can’t be trusted to open-mindedly seek the most qualified candidates for these positions. 

The NFL’s latest proposal — to incentivize minority head coach and general manager hires is basically an admittance that the owners are too stubborn to actually approach hiring practices with colorless shades on. Some won’t even respect the Rooney Rule‘s basic guidelines to interview a minority head-coaching candidate. 

The proposal was attacked by some in media and even one African-American NFL coach, who felt the NFL should be embarrassed and suggested Black head coaches who are hired in this fashion will be respected and valued even less than they already are.  

Said Rob Parker in a scathing Deadspin article in which he also blasted Jay-Z for doing business with the NFL despite the continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick:

If you thought the original Rooney Rule was a disgrace, the NFL’s latest proposal to change it is worse. We might as well call it the Looney Rule. It’s crazy to think that despite playing football at such a high level, making up roughly 70 percent of the players in the league, that owners would have to be enticed to want black people in their organizations.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn told CBS Sports Radio:

I think sometimes you can do the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing…

I think that there are a lot of qualified African-American coaches right now that could be a head coach in this league, and I just pray that we do our due diligence and give these guys an opportunity.

There are some qualified applicants out there and they need an opportunity. I think this is, out of desperation, this is something that has been thrown out there. It is what it is.

Other people such as myself and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin believe that, despite the dog and pony show, it’s a necessary progression towards getting qualified minority candidates hired. 

There’s no shortage of qualified African-American head coaches, coordinators or front office candidates. NFL owners aren’t willing to move the needle at the rate these guys deserve.

Tomlin supports the proposed Rooney Rule changes. The Super Bowl-winning coach tells John Calipari on a recent episode of the “Coffee with Cal” Facebook series that the NFL should incentivize minority hiring, because as he put it,…” we’re acknowledging right now that the system is broken”

In other words, “if we have to pay these jokers to hire us when we’re beyond qualified, then let’s do it because nothing else is working.” 

Tomlin was the kind of hire the Rooney Rule was made for. He was young and African-American and blew the organization away in his interview, eventually becoming the youngest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl and just one of two Black head coaches to ever do it, along with Tony Dungy.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.