Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo Offers Honest Thoughts On NFL Rooney Rule

'Great thought behind it, poor implementation'


Feb 9, 2022

Like most, Jerod Mayo believes the NFL’s Rooney Rule has not produced the desired effect.

The controversial rule, which mandates NFL teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head-coaching and executive positions, is back under the spotlight in the wake of Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the NFL, which he accused of racial discrimination. Currently, there are three non-white head coaches in the NFL: Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Lovie Smith (Houston Texans) and Mike McDaniel, who is biracial and recently was hired to take Flores’ old job with the Miami Dolphins.

Mayo, who is Black, currently serves as inside linebackers coach for the New England Patriots but recently has interviewed for head-coaching positions and received interest for defensive coordinator vacancies. During Wednesday’s “Zolak & Bertrand” episode on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Mayo was asked for his thoughts on how the NFL has handled the Rooney Rule.

“Poorly. I think, honestly, the Rooney Rule, great thought behind it, poor implementation,” Mayo said. “And, from my perspective, look, I never wanted to get a job because I was Black. I wanted to get a job because I was confident, because I care about the guys. But what you do want is a fair shot. You want a fair shot at an interview process. But it’s natural, as well — and this is why I’m not gonna comment until I get more information on this whole thing, and I haven’t gone through the lawsuit — but what I will say is it’s frustrating when I know, I run across competent coaches all the time — competent Black coaches all the time. And I’ve also met incompetent white coaches. And that’s not a knock or shade to anyone else.

“But what I will say is I look at these interviews as a way for me to grow. I didn’t go in there with any expectations of, you know, I’m getting the job, I’m not getting the job. I wanted to put my best foot forward and try to get the job, obviously. But, at the same time, I looked at it as an opportunity to get outside the New England bubble.”

Mayo added: “I’m frustrated more for the Leslie Fraziers of the world. I’m more frustrated for the coaches like that, the Jim Caldwells of the world, than I am for myself. Because, for myself, I’ve only been coaching three years, let’s put it into perspective.”

As for general managers, there currently are five Black GMs in the NFL, including Ryan Poles and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who recently were hired by the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. They join Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns), Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders) and Chris Grier (Dolphins).

“This past GM cycle, it makes me hopeful,” Mayo said. “It makes me hopeful … that having these guys in positions of power, that this will have a trickle-down effect.”

NESN’s Big Game coverage is presented by Berkshire Bank.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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