NFL looking to expand Rooney Rule
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- NFL teams looking to hire general managers may soon be required to interview at least one minority candidate.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league's owners discussed expanding the Rooney Rule -- which already applies to coaching openings -- during the final session of their two-day meetings in South Florida. No vote was taken, though Goodell indicated any changes could be made soon.
The Rooney rule has helped with diversity among the head coaching ranks, but no such rule exists for minority GMs.
The Rooney Rule is named for Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who was not at the meeting for a good reason: He's at what Goodell described as "ambassador school."
Rooney, a lifelong Republican, was picked by President Barack Obama earlier this year to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
"When he gets concluded with his tutoring, I will probably speak with him and we'll make a determination from there," Goodell said.
The Rooney Rule was born nearly seven years ago, when two lawyers threatened to sue the NFL if it didn't open up more opportunities for minorities. Rooney led a committee to develop a policy to stop what the league viewed as an embarrassing lack of diversity.
Expanding that policy to GMs isn't expected to meet much resistance.
"It's a good idea," Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. "We certainly have it with the coaches and this would be expanding it to the general managers. From what I understand, we did follow that when we did hire Bill Parcells."
In other developments before the meetings closed Wednesday morning with a 2½-hour session, seeking ways to generate new revenue streams, NFL clubs can now arrange to have their logos on cards sold by their respective state lotteries.
Delaware became the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after new legislation was signed last week. The NFL is strongly against betting on the outcome of games but said the lottery move could generate significant money to be directed back to "many different public purposes," Goodell said.
In states where there are more than one NFL team, those clubs will be expected to negotiate how to proceed with the lottery.
Talks were held on a tougher anti-tampering stance involving free agents, although Goodell said some owners simply suggested that clubs adhere to the rules already in place.
Some teams have said clubs have illegally reached out to agents before signing periods begin, which could theoretically make it tougher for a team to re-sign its own player. The proposed change would likely install a short window of opportunity for teams to talk to free agents before the signing period begins -- but with no contracts finalized.
"We're discussing it, that's all," Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said.
The issue was tabled Wednesday. Talks will continue, Goodell said, and a vote is likely in October.
More talks were held on a 17- or 18-game regular season, but once again no vote was held and the league's analysis of such a move will continue.
"We did not take any action, but it was a very good discussion," Goodell said.
The Dolphins released plans to offer a wireless video unit to its fans at the club and suite levels this season, a 4.3-inch screen that will give ticket-holders a chance to see replays and other action from around the league from their seats. Talks are planned to have the device available on some level when Miami hosts this season's Super Bowl as well.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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