Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL (Law and Current Events Masters)

By in Sports on February 9, 2013

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Following the NFL’s desegregation in 1946, opportunities became increasingly plentiful for African American players–but not African American coaches. Although Major League Baseball and the NBA made progress in this regard over the years, the NFL’s head coaches were almost exclusively white up until the mid-1990s. Advancing the Ball chronicles the campaign of former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Wooten to right this wrong and undo decades of discriminatory head coach hiring practices–an initiative that finally bore fruit when he joined forces with attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran. Together with a few allies, the triumvirate galvanized the NFL’s African American assistant coaches to stand together for equal opportunity and convinced the league to enact the “Rooney Rule,” which stipulates that every team must interview at least one minority candidate when searching for a new head coach. In doing so, they spurred a movement that would substantially impact the NFL and, potentially, the nation. Featuring an impassioned foreword by Coach Tony Dungy, Advancing the Ball offers an eye-opening, first-hand look at how a few committed individuals initiated a sea change in America’s most popular sport and added an extraordinary new chapter to the civil rights story.

2 thoughts on “Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL (Law and Current Events Masters)

  1. A Sports Fan from Kensington
    1
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An Extraordinary Sports Book, January 8, 2011
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    I love great sports books, but I set the bar high. There are characteristics that I expect a good sports book to have.
    First and foremost, I want them to be well written and N. Jeremi Duru has done just that in his excellent book, Advancing the Ball. This book contains compelling stories and excellent research to document the history of racial inequality in the coaching ranks of the NFL. A sports book should also be captivating and right from the foreword by Tony Dungy, I had difficulty putting this book down. I also believe a sports book should teach me something new and that was what I found with Advancing the Ball. The behind the scenes stories on Johnnie Cochran, Kellen Winslow, Cyrus Mehri, and the Fritz Pollard Alliance brought a picture of all the work that went on to make the Rooney Rule possible. And this brings me to my other requirement of a good sports book which is that it connect with the larger issues in society and Duru’s book does that so well. Like the Blind Side, Playing the Enemy, The Ticket Out, and Scoreboard Baby, Advancing the Ball demonstrates that the larger issues in our society are also evident in the world of sports. This is an excellent book and it now sits on my shelf next to sports books by Scott Simon, Michael Lewis, David Maraniss, and Roger Kahn and it deserves to be there.

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  2. 2
    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A must read for sports enthusiasts and affirmative action supporters., January 17, 2011
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    This book will grab your interest right from the beginning with a forward written by Tony Dungy. A very hard to put down book that depicts behind the scenes how the Rooney Rule came to be in the NFL. The author allows the reader to understand what hard work, determination and effort went into establishing the Rooney Rule as well as who played a role in its birth. This is a very well written book about racial equality and the climb towards equal opportunities in coaching in the NFL, a must read for sports enthusiasts and affirmative action supporters.

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