The NFL’s hiring practice just exemplifies one of life’s truths

Chris Harris, Devils Lake Journal Sports Writer

•No matter how healthy you are, you will eventually die. We may want to live as long as we can but our ticket to Heaven will eventually get punched.

•If you have a paycheck, Uncle Sam is going to reward you by taking what you owe.

•There will always be crime — somewhere.

•And it’s not what you know but who you know.

The job search can be a trying one and most often than not, your biggest break or even your next break, may come down to a person knowing someone to get you in the door. Why do you think references are asked for for when you apply and letter of recommendations are required for something as minutiae as graduate school? So the ones who are in the position to dictate your future advancement see what type of connections you have.

What we’re seeing from the Rooney Rule, which isn’t anything more than a watered down version of the Affirmative Action law, is this practice of Truth No. 4 in action. There are 32 National Football League franchises, 31 NFL owners (the Green Bay Packers are owned by the people) — all of whom are white. This exemplifies the colloquialism ‘Good ol boy network’ which further breaks down to ‘No Blacks Allowed.’

The NFL knows this. That’s why it instituted the Rooney Rule to begin with. That’s why it “partnered” with Roc Nation as a way to “Inspire Change.” As Shawn Carter, known to the masses as Jay-Z, wrote in a press release after the announcement of his Roc Nation collabo with the Shield, “This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

It’s the proverbial ‘seat at the table’ ideology. The problem is that that seat is still at the kid’s table. The grown folks, in the case of hiring practice, table is still being occupied by a culture  of hiring by familiarity rather than credentials. And in business space, familiarity usually means reflection in the mirror. Look around your office, your place of employment or specifically your co-workers at the next staff meeting and ask yourself, is it a reflection of the ‘melting pot’ philosophy that America prides itself on or a reflection of yourself?

Of the 32 NFL teams, there are two black head coaches left, Anthony Lynn of the Chargers (who may be entering the 2020 season on the hot seat) and Mike Tomlin of the Steelers (who may have run his course in Pittsburgh). There were six head coaching vacancies this offseason, Dallas gave a “token” interview to former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis (more on him in a moment) and Kansas City’s offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy got minimum ‘interest’ but neither were seriously considered for any of the open jobs.

According to a story on ESPN by Kevin Seifert, 70.1 percent of the NFL players are minorities but there is only one black general manager (Chris Grier of the Miami Dolphins) and zero black team presidents.

“I think where we are right now is not where we want to be, not where we need to be, and we need to take a step back and look at what’s happening with our hiring processes,” said Art Rooney II according to a story on the re-evaluating of the rule named after his father Dan.

It’s obvious as to why and it has nothing to do with blacks ability to lead a franchise. Future Hall of Famer Tony Dungy has two Super Bowl wins (the 2002 Tampa Bay squad, although it goes on Jon Gruden’s resume, was built by Dungy), Lovie Smith led the Chicago Bears to their only Super Bowl appearance since Mike Ditka, the late Dennis Green was arguably the best coach the Vikings has had and Lewis turned the trash called the Bengals into respectability.

But yet, here we are another offseason and blacks are still being overlooked because their references didn’t come up light enough.

Chris Harris can be reached at