ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **In the wake of Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney's passing Thursday, Head Coach Vance Joseph reflected upon Rooney's legacy, specifically regarding the impact the Rooney Rule had on his coaching experience.
"As someone who's privileged to work in the NFL, my sincere condolences go out to the Rooney family, Mike Tomlin and everyone else at the Steelers who knew Mr. Rooney. I know he was a champion for diversity, not only around the NFL but also within his team. I believe the opportunity he gave Coach Tomlin many years ago opened up a lot of doors for minority coaches around the league, including myself. When you talk about the 'Rooney Rule,' and giving everyone a chance to interview for these jobs, that's a credit to Mr. Rooney and his incredible legacy."
The Rooney Rule was instated by the league in 2002, in large part due to Rooney's lobbying. It requires every franchise to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching positions and senior football operation jobs once there is a vacancy.
Recently at the 2017 NFL Annual League Meeting, Joseph also spoke at length about the Rooney Rule and how it evens the playing field when it comes to interviewing for available coaching positions.
"It's a good rule to have in place because you have a chance to make the so-called playing field fair I would think. With that being said, everyone wants to hire who they know. Black or white or whatever nationality, if I know you, I want to interview you. That is what it is about in my opinion," Joseph said. "It's a good rule to have in place because you're just checking a box to make sure that everyone is getting a chance to interview for those jobs. I do agree with the rule. It's a fair rule in my opinion."
When Dan Rooney hired Mike Tomlin in 2007, he was the organization's first black head coach. Like Joseph, Tomlin only had one season as a coordinator under his belt before becoming the Steelers' head coach. When Joseph was hired in January, he was the 18th black head coach in NFL history.