Veterans lead Rooney Rule candidates

With Jay Gruden's departure from the Redskins and Dan Quinn's uncertain future in Atlanta, league and team insiders are examining the next wave of head coaches and general managers. Some are young with little or no NFL head coaching experience, as Tom Pelissero recently wrote about.

There are others who have had jobs and are looking for another shot, coaches such as Mike McCarthy or Steve Wilks, or executives such as Reggie McKenzie.

In the first of an occasional series, looks closely at some of the names you'll likely be hearing as teams look toward new leaders on the field and in the front office. All teams will have to uphold hiring policies, including that of the Rooney Rule, which was enhanced at the Special League Meeting in December 2018. Those enhancements to strengthen the Rooney Rule included:

  1. Clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club;
  1. Clubs must continue best practice recommendation of considering multiple diverse candidates;
  1. Clubs must maintain complete records and furnish to the league upon Commissioner's request; and
  1. If final decision-maker is involved in the beginning, he/she must be involved through the conclusion of the process.

The committee also endorsed strong accountability measures in the event clubs fail to comply or seek to evade procedures outlined in the Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule changes were developed in consultation with several independent groups including The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which advocates for diversity and job equality in the league.

Adopted in 2003, the Rooney Rule is an NFL policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates. In 2009, the Rooney Rule was expanded to include general manager jobs and equivalent front office positions. The Rooney Rule is named after the late former Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the league's diversity committee, Dan Rooney.

Going beyond some of the young coaches, there are several diversity candidates with experience being talked about:


Eric Bieniemy (offensive coordinator, Chiefs): Bieniemy, a longtime NFL running back, has been on the staff of Andy Reid in Kansas City since 2013, the last two as the OC. He was also the offensive coordinator at the University of Colorado, after stints as the running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings, and in college at CU and UCLA.

Leslie Frazier (defensive coordinator, Bills): A longtime assistant and defensive coordinator in the NFL, Frazier was named interim head coach of the Vikings late in 2010, keeping the job through the end of the 2013 season.


Martin Mayhew (vice president of player personnel, 49ers): After nine seasons as an NFL cornerback, Mayhew joined the front office of the Lions in 2001. He was named the general manager in 2008, drafting future stars such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Ezekiel Ansah. After leaving the Lions, he joined the Giants in football operations before moving to the 49ers in 2017.

Reggie McKenzie (senior personnel executive, Dolphins): A former NFL linebacker, McKenzie spent several years as a personnel executive with the Green Bay Packers before becoming the general manager of the Oakland Raiders in 2012. During his time with the Raiders, he was credited with fixing Oakland's salary cap issues and drafting future stars such as Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and Derek Carr. He was also named NFL Executive of the Year in 2016 by the Pro Football Writers of America, but was let go in 2018.

Jerry Reese: Reese spent 23 years with the New York Giants, including the final 11 as general manager. During his tenure, the Giants won two Super Bowls and went 90-82. Reese's name has been linked to several teams for front office positions since he left New York, both as a personnel executive and a general manager.

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