Disappointed Horton Refuses To Say NFL’s Rooney Rule Isn’t Working
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BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton isn’t disappointed that he wasn’t able to land his first opportunity to become an NFL head coach.
He’s too busy looking ahead to trying to help turn the Browns around after joining new head coach Rob Chudzinski’s staff.
Horton interviewed with several teams for their head coaching vacancies – including the Browns, which fulfilled their Rooney Rule requirement.
Of the 8 head coaching and 7 front office executive positions that came open this offseason, none were filled by minorities leaving many to question whether or not the rule is actually working.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all for minorities,” Horton said. “I was disappointed for Ray Horton. I can’t speak for anybody but myself. That’s another label. I’m not one to put labels on people. I talk about players. I respect the process. The process this year appeared to be offensive-minded coaches for the most part. That’s what the ownership wants. You can’t control what they want. You can just control yourself how you prepare, just as I do each week.
“I’m not mad. I’m not frustrated. Disappointment is the right adjective for me because you’re disappointed and you move on.”
The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching positions. It was expanded to include senior executive positions in 2009.
“I respect the process,” Horton said. “So does it work or not work, I think it worked because I think every NFL team this year hired a guy that they thought was going to lead them to victory.
“I don’t think there was one owner that said, ‘I’m hiring this guy because I think he’s going to run my program into the ground. So does it work? Sure it works.”
The rule, which is named for Steelers owner and chairman of the league’s diversity committee Dan Rooney, due to the Steelers’ history of providing opportunities to minorities to serve in leadership roles within the organization.
He doesn’t believe that he was bypassed because he’s African-American or because wears his hair in tight braids.
“To me, I believe every NFL team owner is trying to get the best coach for their team,” Horton said. “I don’t think anybody goes into it thinking, ‘I’m going to hire this guy because of X reason other than he’s going to lead the team to victories.”
Horton’s hairstyle is unique for a coach and it was a subject that he voluntarily brought up during head coaching interviews that he had.
“Am I tall, short, fat, skinny, white, black? I’m just a person,” Horton said. “But I think I’m a little different looking than most people. I’m different than everybody in this room from the way I look but it’s not an issue and sometimes it is and you want to be forward with how you present yourself because I’m sure the 3-4, 4-3 was an issue here.
“That’s not an issue to me and I just wanted to be upfront and open because it is an abnormality if you will.”
Heading into the 2013 season, the league has the fewest minority coaches since the Rooney Rule was adopted – 4.
With 15 openings and not a single one filled by a quality minority candidate, the NFL is expected to revisit the Rooney Rule this offseason.