So let’s be clear here, we should now idly stand by as the NFL obliterates a rule that was put in place to somewhat balance a field that’s always been askew at a time when many of its subjects are becoming more and more expert in evading the very letter of its intent, all based on the premise ownership will astonishingly come to advocate a level of fairness and equality that has never been a part of their game plan?
Oh, the lunacy and hypocrisy of it all. And on so many levels. Case and point, not only can you virtually count on one-hand the number of African-American coaches that have ascended to the point of landing their dream gig since the Rooney Rule was enacted more than seven seasons ago, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to even gain the requisite interviews to do so, at least on any real level.
Take the heretofore plight of forced career assistant Jerry Gray. For more than twenty years, the last thirteen of which have been as a NFL coach with Tennessee, Buffalo and Washington, Gray has toiled long and hard zeroing in on his big chance only to have it reduced to less than a Hail Mary when he thought the time to shine had finally come.
Washington owner Daniel Synder was as meticulous as he was calculating in satisfying the league-wide mandate by interviewing Gray prior to even releasing then coach Jim Zorn. But when it came time to get serious, it became all but a foregone conclusion the gig would go to retread Mike Shanahan.
Former Super Bowl star and current Minnesota Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier can feel his brother’s pain. Frazier was similarly dissed only days later after the Seattle Seahawks had him in for interview, conveniently forgetting they had already essentially signed and sealed a deal with former USC coach Pete Carroll.
“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,” former Indianapolis Colts legendary coach Tony Dungy told the Associated Press. “If the Jerry Gray situation is the way it has been described, I don’t think it was fair. I don’t think I would ever interview for a job if my boss was not out of the job. I don’t blame Jerry; it’s the position he was put in.”
And it’s some facsimile of that position far too many others like him are finding themselves faced with. For every Mike Tomlin—the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl winning coach who beat out the likes of older assistants Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm for the job in 2007 following a series of interviews he was only initially granted based on the rule—there are seemingly countless others whose experiences have been more in line with Gray and Frazier.
Truth is, it’s a struggle that never seems to end. And now we’re suppose to be amendable to a process that would assure us of being even more out of the equation?