Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is the Rooney Rule Actually Helping Anything?

Let me start this off by saying that I in no way fault Art Rooney for the current form of the Rooney Rule, which states that teams must interview a minority candidate before hiring coaches. But what good is such a rule when teams are only paying it lip service?

The most recent example is, of course, the Seattle Seahawks, who spoke with Pete Carroll and already had a contract ready to sign before they even interviewed their "minority candidate," though they're far from the only ones (see: Browns, Cleveland, and Mangini, Eric). This is so offensive and absurd, and I can't imagine how it must feel to be somebody like Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was the Seahawks "minority interview." But again - Carroll's contract was already ready before Frazier even interviewed.

While Rooney's ideas were and are excellent, their spirit is being grossly violated in these "token interviews." It's clear that the Seahawks didn't want Frazier (or any other minority candidate), just as it was clear last year that the Browns (regretablly) wanted Mangini and Mangini alone. I understand that maybe Frazier did well in the interview, and is ready for future interviews (with word getting out on him among front offices). But what motivation could he really have for an interview for a job he knows he isn't getting? It would be nice if Frazier and other minority candidates refused to interview, leaving a team in limbo, but that won't happen. Instead, we get these terrible, fake interviews that only pay lip service to the rule and in no way follow its spirited effort to get more minority hires in the NFL. These tactics are a major thumb in the eye of the minority candidates and do nothing to achieve what the Rooney Rule was designed to do. I'd like to think there's a better way, but if there is, I just don't see it happening soon. Instead, teams will go after "their" guy, and diversity and the chance for promotion in the NFL will continue to be stunted, to the disadvantage of players, coaches, teams, and fans alike.