In an attempt to be more inclusive, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league will institute a “Rooney Rule” requiring women to be interviewed for future executive positions.
Established in 2003, the current “Rooney Rule” mandates that NFL teams must interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and executive football positions.
Goodell, speaking at the first “Women’s Summit” at Super Bowl 50, said Thursday the league was committed to ensuring women get the same amount of consideration that men do for NFL executive positions.
“You can see that progress is being made,” he said. “And our commitment is we have something called the Rooney Rule, which requires us to make sure when we have an opening, that on the team or the league level, that we are going to interview a diverse slate of candidates. Well we’re going to make that commitment and we’re going to formalize that we, as a league, are going to do that with women as well in all of our executive positions. Again, we’re going to keep making progress here and make a difference.”
Currently, the NFL has two teams with female executive vice presidents. Dawn Aponte holds that title with the Miami Dolphins, while Katie Blackburn has that role in the Cincinnati Bengals front office.
It’s good to see the NFL finally taking the proper steps to ensure women are given the same chance as men for positions. The league can often be narrow-minded when searching for potential candidates.
The NFL has seen a small turn in gender inclusion, as the league hired Sarah Thomas as its first female official last year. The Buffalo Bills also hired Kathryn Smith as a special teams coach this offseason, which made her the first full-time female coach in the league. (Last year, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as a coaching intern during training camp and the preseason to work with the team’s linebackers.)
Since being instituted, the Rooney Rule has led to criticism of not actually leading to minority candidates being hired or being circumvented by some teams, but the NFL has at least acknowledged a problem and attempted to find a solution.
If this leads to more women candidates being hired, than the NFL is better for it. Roger Goodell has made a lot of mistakes during his tenure as commissioner, but this latest move seems to be a good one.