Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rooney Rule legacy touches entirety of NFL and beyond; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 14, 2017

Brian Batko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 

Rooney Rule legacy touches entirety of NFL and beyond

[Kip Currier: Standing across the street from St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood today, the site of Dan Rooney's funeral, I overheard a news reporter filing a story behind me say "Dan Rooney said you can get just about anything done if you share the credit."] 

"Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a foundation promoting equality in coaching, scouting and front-office jobs for NFL teams, Mr. Wooten worked closely with Mr. Rooney to develop a league policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates. Eventually — and, as Mr. Wooten remembers, reluctantly — it would be named after an Irishman who grew up on the North Side.

“The thing about it is, he really didn’t want it to be called the Rooney Rule,” Mr. Wooten, 80, said over the phone from his Texas home on what he called a sorrowful evening for him and his organization. “I told him, ‘As much as I respect you, and will always do what you recommend, I don’t want to call it anything else but the Rooney Rule. Because you are the one that made it happen. You, and you alone, made it happen.’ ”

Undoubtedly, it was also the brainchild of people such as Mr. Wooten and the two attorneys he called on his victorious day in 2002 — Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie Cochran — but Mr. Rooney was the driving force behind it.

As Mr. Wooten sees it, no other NFL power broker would have been able to persuade the entirety of league ownership to vote in favor of the rule. But Mr. Rooney did, with alacrity, and now it’s viewed by many as a move that opened the gates for some of the sport’s finest coaches, including the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin."

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