When coaching changes happen across the league every offseason, there’s always a debate as to whether the practices being followed are fair to minority candidates. Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was considered a finalist for the Colts opening back in February before being passed over by a rookie head coach.
Race will unfortunately be a discussion when minority coaches with prior experience and a Super Bowl ring like Morris are passed over by their inexperienced white counterparts. Discussions of the Rooney Rule’s place in these hiring practices will always be under scrutiny as long as the NFL upholds it. Outgoing NFL Players’ Association executive director DeMaurice Smith called on the league to abandon the rule which would create quite the ripple effect.
"The system is broken."— Sporting News NFL (@sn_nfl) July 6, 2023
SN's @ZacAlKhateeb dives into why outgoing NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith feels the NFL should do away with the Rooney Rule.https://t.co/Yo0RJCPibo pic.twitter.com/rIanJZyKX8
Smith outlined 12 recommendations for the league. His article co-authored with Yale law student Carl Lasker will be published in the next edition of the Yale Law and Policy Review. In place of the Rooney Rule, Smith proposes:
“(The NFL) should adopt a consistent, fair, transparent, and lawful system by which all NFL teams must comply with respect to hiring and retention...fairly evaluates talent, constrains team ownership from engaging in unlawful and/or meaningless ‘check the box’ protocols, and enforces a deliberate, professional, and accountable system.” per the NFLPA and Yale Law and Policy Review
These sweeping changes proposed by Smith are very ambitious in theory but will they actually benefit a coaching hopeful like Morris? Hard to say but the guy is more than deserving of another head coaching gig. He got an unfair shake in Tampa Bay. Morris was fired after the Bucs went 4-12 in 2011 despite going a surprising 10-6 the season before.
A thread on the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers:— Rhett Matthew (@Rhettakus) May 30, 2022
I consider this #Bucs team one of the most underrated squads in franchise history.
To many, they were a pleasant surprise following low expectations, going 10-6 and narrowly missing the playoffs under 2nd year HC Raheem Morris. pic.twitter.com/YD9yicGrJR
The Rams’ DC wouldn’t get another chance until 2020 when Dan Quinn was fired because of an 0-5 start in Atlanta. Morris went 4-7 as an interim coach and wasn’t offered the full time job despite making the Falcons look somewhat respectable, save for a five-game losing streak to end their miserable campaign. It felt as though Morris was finally getting a second chance with the Colts this offseason. Indy wasn’t meant to be which should be a good thing considering they did hire Jeff Saturday off the street.
When the Rooney Rule is brought up, analysts always point to race as being the deciding factor for a candidate not getting a job. I wouldn’t ever say race isn’t involved in such a practice because to some extent, it has to be even if teams won’t openly acknowledge it. All NFL teams for a time were looking for the “next Sean McVay”. Teams and owners will hire who they want and the Rooney Rule is merely something to check off their offseason grocery list on their way to doing so.
Yet it still doesn’t make sense for successful minority coaches to routinely be passed over. Washington OC Eric Bieniemy is living proof that the Rooney Rule is broken. Instead of getting a head coaching offer, Bieniemy had to head to the Nation’s Capital to prove his worth. Don’t give me all this “it was all Andy Reid in KC” or “he doesn’t interview well” BS. It’s evident there’s a double standard present. Bieniemy and Morris have three rings between them and were passed over by the individuals they outcoached in the title game.
The @Eagles lost both coordinators after losing the Super Bowl, yet Raheem Morris & Eric Bienemy didn’t land Head coaching jobs after a win. If showing up in the biggest moment is part of the criteria Morris & Bienemy did that. So my question is…— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) February 14, 2023
What now? “Make it make sense”. pic.twitter.com/cVDeVUpPS8
Morris has the best chance of his career to earn another shot by leading an inexperienced Rams defense. If that unit can look respectable regardless of the talent void at his disposal, Morris will get a head coaching offer right away, without the assistance of the Rooney Rule or Smith’s proposals. Raheem Morris may not be universally beloved by the fanbase, but we should be rooting for his success rather than rooting against it.