Private: ACS Hosts Panel on "Super Bowl XLI, The 'Rooney Rule' and Diversity in NFL Hiring Practices"

Document Type


Publication Date

February 2007

Conference / Event Title

Expert Forum: Law and Policy Analysis

Hosting Organization

American Constitution Society (ACS) Blogs


For the first time in NFL history, the winning coach of the Super Bowl will be African-American. While the history of African-American coaches in the NFL dates back to Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard in 1921, the next African-American head coach of an NFL team was not hired until 1989, when Art Shell was hired by the Oakland Raiders. In 2002, the National Football League adopted the “Rooney Rule,” which requires any team engaged in hiring a head coach to assemble a diverse candidate slate. At least in part as a result, there were a record seven black head coaches in the 2006 season, two of whom--Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears--are now the first African-American head coaches to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. Additionally, with the appointment of Jerry Reese as General Manager of the New York Giants, there are now a record six African Americans in General Manager or General Manager equivalent positions. ACS's panel, which took place in the official Super Bowl XLI media center in Miami, Florida, addressed how those policies were adopted and implemented, the impact they have had on the league and the challenges that remain.