NFL’s New York Giants quarterback Joshua Johnson stated he feels the ‘Rooney Rule’ could and should work here in the UK. The governing body in the States released the policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
Speaking at the Fam First and West Ham Foundation day which allowed children from Newham to interact with himself and Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch, the 31-year-old admitted that all sports are the same and should be treated that way. Johnson also stated people should be handed what they are deserved on merit.
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Sports are sports. It is more about the people at the top if they want to do it,” he continued.
“It is kind of always been the same for me. As I have grown I have had numerous of coaches from different races and different ethnicities. I really don’t focus on it that much as you would probably think.
“It is more about the product that they are giving, if they are good at what they are doing then I respect that.
“The Rooney Rule has opened the door for a lot of African-American coaches to get opportunities that they worked for and deserved.
“This is more about giving people what they earn than just giving them handouts. If you work for it, you deserve it and you should get it.”
The day at West Ham Foundations ground in Beckton on Friday, June 23 involved over 100 children who were broken up into eight groups.
There were with four stations practising soccer drills led by FloRéal and West Ham Coaches and 4 stations doing American football drills led by Lynch and Johnson.
Speaking about how important days like these were and how good it is to see the sport grow in the UK he said: “Being able to teach kids, they don’t really get the opportunity to be around guys like us, we are very similar to them.
“Even though we are from a different place we are real similar to them. So just being able to interact with them, and to let them understand anything is possible.
“We are going to do our part. This is our first year of hosting the programme with the kids learning how to play American football.
“It is going to continue in the years to come. You can see how the NFL is bringing games over here.
“It is only in the beginning stages right now but football will probably be more prevalent in the years to come.”
Lynch and Johnson are no strangers to giving back to the community but have always felt no obligation in doing so and believe other athletes should do the same in a positive manner.
“It was not an obligation to start this foundation, it just happened. We thought it was bigger than what we could have ever imagined by doing something like football camps and things like that.
“Things we did not get to experience as kids. So to just to interact with the love and appreciation, you get from a younger child and the humbleness that it gives you is more important than our obligation.
“It just happened naturally. Athletes should use how they want to use it for something positive.
“Everybody is kind of different. As long as you are doing something positive that is the most important thing to be taking the opportunity that you have and do it in a positive way as much as possible.”
With Tottenham Hotspur set to build a ground that will allow NFL games to be played there, the momentum for a UK fan base has grown quickly over the past few years.
And Johnson believes it is only a good thing to keep educating others about the different sports around the world: “It is most definitely a positive. You are educating people on things that they probably did not know anything about.
“When I came over here there is more what we call soccer on TV rather than in the States so I learned about soccer when I came over here than when I did at home.
“There is more football, so you educate people on things that they might not understand. They will take away from it what they want too.”