Steelers' Rooney: NFL will re-examine diversity rules for hiring

Tanya Simon
January 17, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II told the NFL Network earlier this week that the league is "not where we want to be [and] not where we need to be". He hasn't been able to do a whole lot yet, but that's going to ramp up over the next couple of months.

As long as the Roethlisberger and the rest of the injured Steelers are able to get back to full health before the start of 2020, Pittsburgh should make quick work of getting back into the conversation as legitimate contenders in the AFC.

"Obviously, we have to look at what we can do differently now", Rooney said. They have money available to them that we can't see or count.

"We need to sit down with Ryan and discuss the next step", said the team president.

"We're all comfortable with Mason being our backup".

But if the Steelers are unable to keep him on their list - they've just put him on the PUP list in the past two seasons after winning his contract - they should use him in a different way to allow him to continue to use their facilities and always be around the team. He had to deal with some unusual circumstances, including injuries and everything else. I just saw him downstairs working out.

But that doesn't mean Rooney was unhappy with the job offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner did in 2019, when he also served as the quarterbacks coach.

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And still Pittsburgh was in playoff contention on the final day of the regular season before finishing 8-8, a testament to what Rooney described as a "great job" by head coach Mike Tomlin.

"Everything we hear so far is positive, in particular Ben's attitude about things", said Rooney, via the official team website. "He was a known commodity for us, and we liked some of the work that he has done, so we are happy to have him on board". "Perhaps even expand the Rooney Rule into some of the lower levels, perhaps the coordinator level".

"I was proud of the way our guys kept fighting through all the adversity, and unfortunately we couldn't keep it going there the last few weeks of the season", Rooney said on Wednesday. While they were a scrappy team (particularly on defense following the addition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick), the instability under center ultimately proved to be their undoing. "We have talked about it before - I would like to see us be a team that can be more consistent running the football". "That " s a big part of the game".

"I don't want to say he's given up on the idea of being player", Rooney said. "I think running the ball is a factor - it should be".

Rooney's remarks come a day after the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization that works with the National Football League to champion diversity, released a scathing reaction to the recent coaching hires, saying the NFL's "abysmal record of hiring people of color in high-ranking levels of National Football League management" is the result of a "flawed system" that must be changed.

"James (Conner) unfortunately had bad luck this year in terms of injuries", said Rooney, "but when he has been healthy, he has been a very productive player for us".

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