Rooney Rule - History and Origin

History and Origin

The rule is named for Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee, and indirectly the Rooney family in general, due to the Steelers' long history of giving African Americans opportunities to serve in team leadership roles.

The rule was established to ensure that minority coaches, especially African Americans, were considered for high-level coaching positions. Until 1979, Fritz Pollard was the only minority head coach in NFL history (which was during the league's early years in the 1920s) and by the time the Rule was implemented, only Tom Flores, Art Shell, Dennis Green, Ray Rhodes, Tony Dungy, and Herman Edwards had ever held head coaching jobs (Only Dungy and Edwards were actively head coaching at the time of the Rule's implementation, though Shell and Green would later return to head coaching). Dungy in particular had struggled for years before getting a head coaching job; he was often promoted as a head coaching candidate by Chuck Noll when Dungy was an assistant under Noll in the 1980s with the Steelers, but he would not become a head coach until 1996 when he took over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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