Leiweke: Hawks adhered to NFL’s Rooney Rule
CEO says interviews with minorities genuine
RENTON, Wash. – Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke took issue Tuesday with criticism he was less than genuine in interviewing minority candidates before Seattle hired Pete Carroll as its coach.
Speaking moments after he introduced Carroll as the eighth coach in Seattle’s 34-year history, Leiweke said he offered the Seahawks president’s job to former Colts and Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy last month. The offer came soon after the Seahawks forced Tim Ruskell to resign as president and general manager Dec. 3.
“That’s not to defend myself with the Rooney Rule. Tony would have made a heck of a president. That was the first call I made,” said Leiweke, who has been doing the interviews for the team’s coach, GM and president vacancies on behalf of team owner Paul Allen.
Leiweke said Dungy considered the offer for a night before telling him no thanks.
The league’s Rooney Rule requires interviews with minority candidates. The rule, which was introduced after the 2002 season and became mandatory a year later, applies to the hiring of head coaches and senior football executives.
Leiweke said his interview with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday in Minnesota lasted four hours – then they watched the Eagles-Cowboys playoff game together that night. Leiweke cited it as further proof he adhered to the league’s minority hiring initiative.
“I went to see Leslie and I saw him in good faith,” Leiweke said, firmly. “When I went to Minnesota, I was not sure we would get it done with Pete. There were significant issues.”
Carroll joined Leiweke in saying reports he had a preliminary deal with the Seahawks as early as Friday were wrong.
Leiweke said the issues included whom the Seahawks were targeting as their new GM, and whom Carroll wanted to bring from USC to his staff in Seattle. Those issues got worked out in a face-to-face meeting in California on Sunday.
On Saturday, Dungy wondered about the process used by the Redskins, who interviewed assistant Jerry Gray for the head coaching position last month even though Jim Zorn still held the job.
“That is not what the Rooney Rule is supposed to be, (that) you make up your mind and then interview a candidate for it anyway just to satisfy the rule,” said Dungy, who retired from coaching last year.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday that the Seahawks had complied with the Rooney Rule after interviewing Frazier.
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