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Black ex-coaches say NFL's Rooney Rule is broken

Black ex-coaches say NFL's Rooney Rule is broken

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Three black former NFL head coaches say the league needs to rethink its Rooney Rule for promoting minority hiring after 15 top vacancies - eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager positions - were all filled by white candidates since the regular season ended a month ago.

``I know the concept is good and something we need to do,'' said Tony Dungy, who was with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2006 season when he became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. ``Obviously, it's not working the way it should.''

The Rooney Rule, implemented in 2003, was named for Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who steadfastly pushed the league to require every team to interview at least one minority candidate every time there is a coaching or general manager opening.

Before the rule went into effect, the NFL had had only six minority head coaches in more than 80 years. Since it has been in place, 12 have been hired.

But none were hired this year to replace the two black coaches who were fired - Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Lovie Smith in Chicago - and the one fired black GM, Rod Graves in Arizona.

Herm Edwards, former coach of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs and now an ESPN analyst, has called for not only revising the rule but perhaps even changing its name.

``When you use the Rooney Rule and not correctly, you put a little bit of a bad mark on Mr. Rooney's name, and that is not good,'' Edwards said Wednesday. ``If it keeps going this way, we might need to take his name off the rule. It is not being used in the right manner that Mr. Rooney meant it to be.''

Robert Gulliver, the NFL's executive vice president of human resources, said that the hiring results were ``disappointing'' and that he expects to make revisions in the rule.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches and front-office, scouting and game-day NFL officials, wants the Rooney Rule expanded to apply to coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.

Unlike Dungy and Edwards, Jim Caldwell is still coaching, albeit as an assistant. Not only that, his team, the Baltimore Ravens, will play the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Super Bowl. But he wasn't even invited to interview for one of the eight vacant coaching jobs, though having a team in the playoffs can be a hindrance to such opportunities.

Fired as the Colts' coach following the 2011 season, Caldwell joined the Ravens as quarterbacks coach. When head coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in December, Caldwell was promoted. With his guidance, Baltimore's offense responded.

Caldwell is no stranger to the Super Bowl, having led the Colts there three years ago after replacing the retired Dungy. It was only after Peyton Manning was sidelined for the 2011 season that Caldwell was fired.

``It has been a great rule and it has worked in the past,'' he said. ``Just like anything else, you have to, after a certain period of time, revisit it and take a look and see if it needs a little tweaking. I think it does in this particular case.''

Caldwell added: ``That's one of the reasons that the Rooney Rule was put in place, because you're trying to avoid those situations, if possible. We're at that stage where guys like Lovie Smith, who didn't get an opportunity, who had won and been very successful previously ... obviously, there's some concern there, and that's why I think the rule is going to be revisited.''

Dungy said he believes the entire system is broken. He cited 21 head coaching jobs changing in a three-year span, which he said indicates owners are making the wrong hires regardless of race.

Edwards said he wonders whether minority candidates get interviewed only to satisfy the rule, even though they have no chance of getting the job. He and Dungy noted that the last black head coach hiring - other than coaches promoted from within, like Leslie Frazier, Raheem Morris, Mike Singletary, Hue Jackson and Crennel - was Mike Tomlin by Pittsburgh, in 2007.

There are currently four minority head coaches: Tomlin, Frazier in Minnesota, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Ron Rivera in Carolina. Minority general managers include Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome, Detroit's Martin Mayhew, Houston's Rick Smith, the New York Giants' Jerry Reese and Oakland's Reggie McKenzie.

``I am not saying you have to hire a minority candidate. No one is saying that,'' Edwards said. ``I am saying you can't be blinded. It can't be, `Who is the guy to interview to get this out of the way?'''

``The problem I have is you don't really abide by the Rooney Rule the correct way,'' he said.

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?