Jerry Gray, Bobby Mitchell, and the Redskins Rooney Rule

Anthony BrownCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2010

LANDOVER, MD - 2006:  Jerry Gray of the Washington Redskins poses for his 2006 NFL headshot at photo day in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

The one thing we are going to miss about Jim Zorn is his unusual candor. We could use a lot more candor in Washington from Capitol Hill to Redskin Park. Take Jerry Gray. Can we get some candor please?

As a black guy who attended his first Redskins game in 1962 because his dad thought it important that his son see in person the first black guy, Bobby Mitchell, to play in a Redskins uniform, I have conflicting feelings about Washington's implementation of the Rooney Rule and Jerry Gray's role in it.   

Coaches come with networks of assistants. I get it. We want coaches to come with their assistants so they can make the biggest impact on their new team the quickest. I get that, too.

Yet somehow that old boy network failed to include minority coaches in any number approaching their proportion as players, especially at the coordinator position where fresh head coach candidates arise. (that's improving, however. Gray is part of Gregg Williams' coaching network.)

Enter the Rooney Rule that required that owners at least talk to one minority candidate when making a head coach hire. That action breaks the cycle of hiring by name recognition and brings to the surface a list of very good assistants who are not otherwise considered.

Can we at least talk to these guys?

In a 40-year business career where I had access to senior executives, I saw the value of management bench strength. Unless the business has crashed and burned, you are better off promoting from within than outside.

Teams are better off if their Rooney Rule candidate is already in-house rather than from the outside. Jerry Gray represents management bench strength.

So why the discomfort? Because no one is being candid here.

The Washington Redskins are a train wreck. The coaching staff will be swept out, as they should be.

Carry-over coaches of four-win teams are not going to get the top job. Jerry Gray is not going to be the next Redskins head coach. Instead, he has become the Bobby Mitchell of the coaching staff.

Mitchell spent the 1962 through '68 seasons playing for the Redskins, then from 1968 through 2003 in Washington's front office. He ended his career as assistant general manager when black front office executives were a rarity. 

Mitchell made the Hall of Fame as a player, but never got a sniff from any team as a real GM. He could have used the Rooney Rule. When he retired, Mitchell lamented the pretense of it all.

The pretense of interviewing Gray to satisfy (subvert) the intentions of the Rooney Rule insults me.   

If Daniel Snyder had any inclination to hire from within, he would have made Joe Bugel, if not Gregg Williams or Gray, head coach last season.

If Daniel Snyder had any inclination to find the next bright outside candidate, he would be lining up a list names now, and Rooney Rule candidates would be one or two of those prospects.

By all reports, Gray and Mike Shanahan are the only two people to interview for the job. Shanahan is the potential outside hire.

Daniel Snyder has revealed himself to be the Snyder of 2000. That Snyder has a track record of hiring a famous name to coach the team to a .500 record over the following three years. Jerry Gray isn't famous enough.

I just wish someone was candid enough to tell us what we already know.