Making an OT change: The NFL Owners Meetings wrapped up on Tuesday with a lot of progress on a variety of fronts coming over the three days spent in West Palm Beach, Florida.
But the biggest item was the adoption of a new overtime rule for the postseason, which will allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball even if the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown.
Steelers President Art Rooney II said the team was in favor of the rule that passed, which was presented by the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.
"On the football front, we were able to pass the overtime rule, which we were in favor of something and glad something got done," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "I guess it's fair to say it was a compromise between a few different proposals. So, we got that done."
Rooney said that there was a swell of support for the rule, with 29 of the 32 teams voting in favor of it.
"It got a good bit of discussion," said Rooney. "There was a lot of discussion about some wanted to keep the regular season overtime and the postseason overtime consistent.I think we got to the point where we realized it was impossible to do it that way. I'm glad it was just the postseason that was addressed. That's what we wanted."
Rooney said the AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, which the Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime, was a key factor in the proposal passing after the Bills didn't get the opportunity to possess the ball in an epic playoff game.
"I think that one game stuck in everybody's mind, and we knew we needed to make a change," said Rooney.
Addressing diversity: Another big component of the Owners Meetings was diversity, and with Rooney being the chairman of the eight-member Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, it was something he was very focused on.
"We spent a good bit of time talking about our diversity policies, trying to improve what we're doing there," said Rooney. "We had some good discussions about that. We adopted a new policy as far as adding an offensive assistant role, an elevation over what we've been doing the last few years."
While there was progress, when Coach Mike Tomlin spoke on Monday, he said he 'doesn't have a level of confidence' that the next NFL hiring cycle will produce more minority head coaches in the League. Rooney said he understands that frustration.
"I've always asked Mike his opinion on these kinds of things," said Rooney. "Certainly, I understand the frustration of our minority coaches. But I think that we have been making efforts that are starting to show positive results at different levels of the League. Not at the head coach but at different levels in the League. And we think we just have to stay after it and we'll see the results that we want to have."
With hiring policies and diversity a major focus, all eyes are on teams still as some top positions are still being filled. The Steelers are undergoing a search for a new General Manager with Kevin Colbert stepping down from that role following the NFL Draft, and while there have been minority candidates interviewed for the position, Rooney said he doesn't feel pressure to hire one because of the Rooney Rule. He said the main thing is to hire the best candidate.
"We are going to hire the best person for the job," said Rooney. "From the minority side, look, there are qualified candidates that are minorities. So, I'm sure we'll have some good candidates on the minority side as well. Looking forward to continuing that process after the draft."
Adding an asset: When the Steelers hired Brian Flores as the team's Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers Coach, many praised the team for giving Flores an opportunity while he is going through legal issues with the league.
For Rooney, it was simply about hiring a coach who can be an asset to the team.
"We hired Brian because we think he is a qualified coach and will be an asset to us," said Rooney. "The lawsuit can create an awkward situation at times. But look, we are in respect of the lawsuit, we remain committed, I remain committed to improving the situation in every way we can, and we've been working hard to do that. I can't really comment on the lawsuit itself. And that's something that we agree that he'll pursue his end of it, we'll pursue our end of it and that's sort of going to happen outside the building."
Rooney said the hiring of Flores came from Tomlin, who approached him with the idea because of what he can bring to the defense.
"Mike came to me and said, he thought that Brian was available, and was interested in coming and that he was interested in hiring him," said Rooney. "That's when we started the discussion. We didn't get into any discussions about the Rooney Rule or anything else."