On September 30, 2002, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and Cyrus Mehri issued a ground-breaking report – Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities - revealing that black NFL head coaches are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts, and are consequently denied a fair chance to compete for head coaching jobs.
The report opened the NFL’s eyes to its teams’ unfair hiring processes. One month later, on October 31, 2002, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced the formation of a diversity committee, headed by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, to address the NFL’s minority-hiring practices. Within two months, the League announced a diversity plan, which included the requirement that each team interview at least one minority candidate prior to selecting a head coach. The Rooney Rule has already positively impacted the League.
On March 10, 2003, the Fritz Pollard Alliance was formed as an affinity group of NFL minority coaches, scouts and front office personnel. During the last couple of years the FPA has worked with the NFL to develop hiring guidelines for front office and scouting positions as well as talent development programs. The FPA advocates for policy changes in the NFL hiring practices and working in partnership with the NFL to create opportunities for minority candidates.