The Rooney Rule and The Fritz Pollard Alliance
The environmental movement is much like the NFL: blacks can perform well in low level positions, but will not be hired in management and leadership positions. Unlike the environmental movement, the NFL had the good sense to do more than just acknowledge the situation, they actively addressed it and the discriminatory hiring practices have been somewhat ameleorated. And black coaches have gone on to win Superbowls. The NFL went through the same process with black quarterbacks. The environmental movement is still one of the most segregated sectors in America.
On September 30, 2002, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and Cyrus Mehri issued a ground-breaking report, "Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities," revealing that black NFL head coaches are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts, and are consequently denied a fair chance to compete for head coaching jobs.
The report opened the NFL's eyes to its teams' unfair hiring processes. One month later, on October 31, 2002, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced the formation of a diversity committee, headed by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, to address the NFL's minority-hiring practices. Within two months, the League announced a diversity plan, which included the requirement that each team interview at least one minority candidate prior to selecting a head coach. The Rooney Rule has already positively impacted the League.
On March 10, 2003, the Fritz Pollard Alliance was formed as an affinity group of NFL minority coaches, scouts and front office personnel. During the last couple of years the FPA has worked with the NFL to develop hiring guidelines for front office and scouting positions as well as talent development programs. The FPA advocates for policy changes in the NFL hiring practices and working in partnership with the NFL to create opportunities for minority candidates. Some teams violate the spirit of The Rooney Rule by just interviewing a minority candidate just to satisfy the rule.
The mission statement of the Fritz Pollard Alliance is simple yet profound ‘promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of National Football League (“NFL”) teams.’ The FPA provides networking, mentoring and career development opportunities for minority candidates on NFL team staffs; encourages adoption of rules and practices by the NFL that foster diversity on team staffs; educates NFL team owners and managers regarding the availability of minority candidates for team staff positions; and advocates the hiring and promotion of minority candidates in NFL team staff hierarchy through public education and communication with team and league ownership and management. (Source: The Fritz Pollard Alliance)