Hue Jackson: Rooney rule not working, more changes required

​​​​​​​Jackson feels minority coaches have trouble getting hired after being fired

Daryl Ruiter
June 10, 2020 - 5:01 pm

The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Rooney Rule was designed to promote the elevation of minority coaching candidates within the coaching ranks to head coaching positions in the NFL.

Unfortunately, it’s not producing the tangible results the league hoped it would.

Former Browns head coach Hue Jackson believes it’s past the time for major changes.

“It’s gotta be tweaked. Obviously, it hasn’t worked,” Jackson said in an interview with Baskin and Phelps on 92.3 The Fan Wednesday.

“There’s four minority head coaches in the National Football League. There’s two GMs. There’s two quarterback coaches in all of pro football. There’s only been 19 [minority] head coaches in the 100-year history of the National Football League. So, there’s a lot of things that need to change and they need to change fast.”

The league amended the Rooney rule this year from requiring one minority candidate to be interviewed for a head coaching job to doubling it to two – and they must come from outside the organization, eliminating teams from using an interview with a current assistant coach to comply.

A minority candidate must also be interviewed from outside the organization for all three coordinator jobs – offense, defense and special teams – going forward and teams must also interview minorities or female candidates for executive level positions throughout their organization.  

“I think everybody’s opening their eyes to what is going on,” Jackson said.

A proposed plan that was tabled by owners this offseason that involved teams being awarded an elevated mid-round draft pick for hiring a minority coach offended Jackson, and understandably so.

“You can’t do that,” Jackson said. “Why does somebody need to have a draft pick to hire me? Why does somebody need that? If I’m a good coach, why don’t you just take the blueprint that I have and let’s go find the players that we need in order to be successful? To reward a team [for hiring a minority], who would want to be in a job like that?

“Let’s not compensate [teams] with draft picks, let’s compensate them with, where that guy goes, he gets to stay there for the length of his contract,” Jackson said. “That would be more important because the guy that got hired, he could get fired the next year. That’s the way it works.

Jackson, who is hoping to return to coaching, likely won’t get a third opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL, which is why his time with the Browns frustrates him so much when he looks back on it.

“You can’t take a minority coach and then put him in a situation, in this setting, and all of the sudden not do the things that help people have success,” Jackson said. “You need these minority coaches to be successful.”

Jackson took the job in Cleveland to win immediately and he has said on multiple occasions since being fired midway through the 2018 season that he believes he was never given a fair and legitimate opportunity to do so.

Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations at the time, began gutting the roster and stacking draft picks for a rebuild less than two months after Jackson was hired.

The other issue Jackson sees with minority coaches is the ability to be hired after being fired.

While white coaches get two or three or even more head coaching or coordinator jobs regardless of success or failure, that is not something coaches of color are afforded in the NFL.

“I think the hardest part for minority coaches, and I can say this because I’ve been through it a couple of times now, when you become a coordinator or a head coach, where do you go after that when you’re a minority coach?,” Jackson said. “Because you’ve been to the highest. People don’t just turn around and hire you [after being fired]. That’s the way it’s been.

“It’s not right. It’s not right at all, but that’s the way it’s been.”

Jackson felt the Browns were on the rise in his third season having played in four overtime games and being 2-5-1 after going 1-31 the previous two years.

“I want to coach,” Jackson said. “I’m in a position where I just want to coach football. It’s not even about being a head coach. It’s about going back and doing what you’ve been passionate about, that you’ve given your life to for 32 years and are seen as one of the best.

“I didn’t climb the ladder because my dad was a coach or brother was a coach. I worked my way up in the National Football League. I’ve coached on both sides of the ball. I’ve coached some extremely good players. I’ve created the right environments. And at the end of the day, it’s like you’re penalized for it because of the Cleveland situation. I don’t think that’s fair.”

Listen to the complete interview below.