I must admit that my initial reaction was to agree with the contention that the "Rooney Rule" failed during the recent cycle of NFL hires.

Eight new head coaches were hired and the league went a perfect 0-8 in the hiring of minorities. Seven new general managers were hired, with the league going 0-7 in minority hires.

Even the NFL office expressed disappointment, because 0-15 was just the type of scenario the Rooney Rule was supposed to prevent.

Since 2003, NFL teams have been required to interview minorities when head-coaching and senior football operations jobs become available. The hope was that more interaction between minority candidates and owners would lead to more diversity in hires.

Obviously, that didn't happen this offseason.

But my practical side told me to make a logical analysis and to not have a knee-jerk reaction that what happened was NFL owners collectively ignoring the spirit of the rule.

Yes, the Rooney Rule failed to work in this offseason. It may indeed need some revamping to include openings for offensive and defensive coordinators - the assistant coaching positions that most directly lead to head-coaching jobs.

But I don't think it is fair to simply say that 0-15 is an indication that the NFL has stepped back from its commitment to be an equal-opportunity employer.

When the 2013 NFL season begins, there will be four minority head coaches - Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, Leslie Frazier in Minnesota, Ron Rivera in Carolina and Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh. That's the fewest since the Rooney Rule was implemented.

Is it fair, however, to infer that the NFL has suddenly shifted back to being a "good old boys" network after a decade of progress?

I'd say that isn't fair.

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but I think most NFL franchises have moved beyond the thinking that minority coaches cannot be successful leaders in a league in which more than 70 percent of the players are African-American.

It's the same way they got over the stereotypes about black quarterbacks.

Three African-American head coaches represents 9.4 percent of the 32 of the positions in the NFL. According to the U.S. Census, the overall population that identifies as black is 13.1 percent. One more coach would put the NFL at close to that.

But intent is more important than numbers when alleging bias.

Do the teams that had head-coaching vacancies this offseason have a history of excluding minorities? Actually, it has been the opposite.

Let's start at home.

The Eagles hired University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly to replace Andy Reid, but before Reid, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie's first head-coaching hire was Ray Rhodes, who is African-American.

Rhodes got four full seasons to prove himself with the Birds. He went 29-34-1, with two playoff appearances.

"Ray Bob" got fired after going 9-22 in his final two seasons, which is comparable to Reid, who got fired after going 12-20 in his final two seasons.

The Kansas City Chiefs hired Reid 5 days after he was fired by the Eagles. But the guy he replaced, Romeo Crennel, is African-American.

Crennel, who also was head coach of the Cleveland Browns for four seasons, went a NFL-worst 2-14 in 2012. His career record as a head coach is 28-55.

The Arizona Cardinals replaced Ken Whisenhunt with Bruce Arians. Before Whisenhunt, the Cardinals' coach was Dennis Green, an African-American who went 16-32 in three seasons. Whisenhunt went to the playoffs twice in his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance, but was fired after going 18-30 his last three seasons.

Again, the same standard seems to have applied.

The Chicago Bears did fire Lovie Smith, who is African-American, and replaced him with Marc Trestman, who coached the Montreal Alouettes, of the Canadian Football League.

But the fact remains - they hired Smith in the first place.

Smith went 10-6 in 2012, and was 81-63 overall. He guided Chicago to the 2006 Super Bowl. But Smith made the playoffs only three times in nine seasons.

It's a bit unfair to call it a double standard that Reid, who made the playoffs nine times and reached five NFC Championship games, immediately was rehired, while Smith, who won three playoff games, is still out of work.

Still, considering some of the lousy coaches who've gotten second and third chances in the NFL, it's surprising that Smith didn't get one.

And Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who took the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl XLIV, probably should have at least gotten an interview. But Caldwell did go 2-14 in his final season with the Colts, albeit without the injured Peyton Manning.

Still, five of the seven teams - Arizona, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City and Philadelphia - that just hired new coaches had previously hired African-Americans as head coaches.

Entering his 11th season in 2013, Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis, who is African-American, is the second-longest tenured coach, behind New England's Bill Belichick. But while Belichick has won three Super Bowls, Lewis (79-80-1) has never won a playoff game in four appearances.

The Rooney Rule was not created to force NFL owners to hire minority head coaches and executives. It was created with the idea that if more owners went through the interview process with minority candidates, they would realize that the cream rising to the top comes in all colors.

That's what has happened.

In the decade since the inception of the Rooney Rule, nine minorities have been hired as full-time NFL coaches. Before the Rooney Rule, there were eight in the first 82 seasons of the NFL.

Sure, the process can use some tweaking, but it would be too simplistic to look at 2012 by itself and determine that it has been a failure.