The NFL is dealing with the ramifications of the Brian Flores class action lawsuit, and the Tennessee Titans were recently thrown into the mix due to their disregard of the Rooney Rule.
What is the Rooney Rule and how does it work in the NFL?
Back in 2003, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule based on recommendations by the Workplace Diversity Committee.
This rule is defined on the NFL's official football operations website as follows:
The Rooney Rule is one part of the NFL’s effort to develop a deep, sustainable talent pool at all levels of the organization. The policy promotes diverse leadership among NFL clubs to ensure that promising candidates have the opportunity to prove they have the necessary skills and qualifications to excel.
Through hiring best practices, the Rooney Rule aims to increase the number of minorities hired in head coach, general manager, and executive positions. This diversity enriches the game and creates a more effective, quality organization from top to bottom.
Conducting hiring interviews flies in the face of the spirit of this rule. The goal is to increase the number of minorities hired.
Mike Mularkey was the beneficiary of the Tennessee Titans flouting the NFL's Rooney Rule.
Mike Mularkey came out and revealed the Titans' intentions to hire him before ever considering another candidate for the head coaching job (aka Rooney Rule violation) back in 2016. What Mularkey is claiming the Titans did abuses that principle:
"The ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule. And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in ’16, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to go that job. And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me, that I have a job already. I regret it. . . . and I’ve regretted that since then. It was the wrong thing to do and I’m sorry I did that, but it was not the way to do that. Should have been interviewed like everybody else and got hired because of the interview, not early on. So that’s probably my biggest regret. . . . It’s not hard to do the right thing. It’s really not. But you can get caught up in this business.”
While he knows he can't take back what he did six years ago, Mularkey did provide Flores with valuable information as he builds up his class action lawsuit against the league.
The Titans have joined a list of scrutinized teams (Giants, Dolphins, Broncos, Texans, Cardinals) being investigated for racist hiring practices throughout the past decade.