Stephen A Smith: NFL’s Affirmative Action-like ‘Rooney Rule’ Hurting Black Coaches

On Thursday’s “First Take” on ESPN2, co-host Stephen A. Smith went on another rant about his disdain for the lack of African-American head coaches in the NFL as a reaction to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ surprising firing of head coach Lovie Smith after just two seasons with the team.

According to Smith, the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs, may actually be hurting African-American coaches instead of helping.

“It’s not going to surprise me at all, Skip Bayless, if in a year or two we don’t see an African-American head coach in the game. Because it’s one of those situations where the Rooney rule has been instituted, it’s been implemented and still the nonsense takes place. We’re going to have Herm Edwards on the show; he came on my radio show yesterday, Skip, and made a very, very valid point. We’ve got to a point where African-American coaches need to be careful about actually accepting interviews.”

“If you are an African-American, and you get called for an interview because they’re not serious about the interview, because we all know that Tampa Bay is going through the process because they already know who they want to give the job to, we assume,” Smith continued. “I’m telling you, we know what the hell they’re doing, ok? They know who they’re going to hire. So you’re going to go through the old standard of honoring the Rooney rule and interviewing candidates just to say you interviewed. But Herm Edwards pointed out that the owners will see that and say, ‘Well, they’ve already been interviewed two or three times and they didn’t get those jobs so evidently they weren’t that impressive so why give them this job?’ What we’re seeing is us taking steps back, not steps forward. I’m sorry if folks believe that’s race baiting. It just happens to be factual, but if that’s where you want to take it, I don’t give a damn.”

Smith then went on another rant later in the show about affirmative action, where he said “one could argue” that the biggest beneficiaries to affirmative action are white females. He then asked how it is American that African-American coaches feel the interview they are getting “will be counted against them.”

“I’m saying when you look at the results of what has transpired, one could make the argument we are officially taking a step back,” he stated. “Not only are the number of African-American coaches diminished, but they have gotten a point where you have black men in the NFL literally scared to take an interview because they feel taking the interview will be counted against them. How is that American? How is that American?”

In December, Smith called for the Rooney Rule to be integrated in college football when he complained Mark Richt was hired to be the Miami Hurricanes head football coach instead of an African-American coach.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent