The Importance of Black Coaches Being Aware of Their Role as Rooney Rule Pawns

Are you helping yourself or are you helping them? Every Black man in the NFL must ponder this before accepting an interview for a head coaching position. The answer to the question affects many, as seen in the case of David Shaw.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Los Angeles Chargers “completed an interview with David Shaw for their head coaching job. They’re now in compliance with the Rooney Rule.” Twitter (now known as X) exploded with discussions about the optics of the situation. A white reporter, long accused of carrying the league’s water, was reporting that another Black coaching candidate may have been used to clear the Chargers of any shadiness, given that they’re probably going to hire the white coach of their choosing.

This story has become routine. Every year around this time, there are multiple open positions with very few, if any, Black hires despite interviews per the Rooney Rule. And once the positions are filled, league commissioner Roger Goodell offers comments expressing frustration at the pace of progress.

Schefter also reported that Shaw “has long been a target of NFL teams” having been interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Broncos and Titans in back-to-back years. In two years, a Black candidate who didn’t coach at all in 2023 has had at least three interviews.

Despite Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and evidence of the games that owners play with the Rooney Rule, it still exists. But details reveal that Major League Soccer has a better Rooney Rule than the NFL.

The NFL continues to jump hoops in the name of fake diversity, with the NFL’s diversity coaching fellowship named after a white man — Bill Walsh. As of Tuesday morning, only two of the eight head coaching vacancies have been filled, and the challenges faced by Black coaches in the NFL require them to decipher if they’re a candidate or part of a quota.