FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Recent minority interviews for NFL coaching jobs in Washington and Seattle under the Rooney Rule have raised questions whether the spirit of the rule has been violated.
Former Colts coach Tony Dungy wonders about the process used by the Redskins, who interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for the head coaching position last month even though Jim Zorn still held the job.
The Seahawks met with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday amid reports that Southern California coach Pete Carroll would be hired regardless of how impressive Frazier was.
“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 and now is an analyst on NBC.
“If the Jerry Gray situation is the way it has been described as happening, I don’t think it was fair.”
Yet Dungy encourages all candidates to interview – under the proper procedures.
“The idea of the rule is to slow down the process and get teams to do their homework and investigate a lot of candidates, not just minority candidates,” he said. “You went through the process, and in doing that sometimes you uncover people.”
That’s what happened when the Steelers hired Mike Tomlin over assistants Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm in 2007. Dungy believes Frazier’s numerous interviews – the Rams, Broncos, Lions, Dolphins, Falcons have spoken to him in past years, and he remains among the front-runners for the Buffalo position – will pay off, too.
“Even in cases where you don’t get the job, I know Leslie interviewed with the Dolphins and know Bill Parcells came away impressed and told other people how impressed he was, and he is a sharp guy and that helps,” Dungy said. “That goes a ways in promoting that diversity.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress said Sunday only the interviewee can determine the legitimacy of the talks.
“It’s really for the guy that’s being interviewed to decide what he feels like the intentions are,” Childress said.
On Saturday, commissioner Roger Goodell said the Redskins and Seahawks had complied with the Rooney Rule in their coaching searches. League spokesman Greg Aiello added on Sunday:
“The rule has been effective, teams are complying, and it has produced its intended positive results. Before the Rooney Rule, interviews with minority head coaching and GM candidates that are conducted now might never have taken place. Since the Rooney Rule, there has been an exceptional increase in the number of minority coaches who have had interviews, and there are far more minority coaches in the NFL, including head coaches, than in years past.”
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