Rooney Rule: An Insult to Minority Coaches and Fair Competition

Adam WaldmanContributor IJanuary 4, 2011

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Coach - Ray Sherman
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Coach - Ray ShermanGetty Images/Getty Images

On November 9, the Dallas Cowboys mercifully fired Wade Phillips after an embarrassing 45-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, and named Jason Garrett the interim head coach.

On November 22, the Minnesota Vikings fired Brad Childress after an embarrassing 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and named Leslie Frazier the interim head coach.

Both Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier instantly changed the culture of their teams and ended their respective seasons on positive notes. 

A last-minute victory by the Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of the season gave Jason Garrett a 5-3 record during his interim coaching tenure.  The week before, in a controversial snow-delayed game, Leslie Frazier’s underdog Vikings handed the Eagles a crushing defeat.  Both games took place in the unfriendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings removed the interim tag and named Leslie Frazier head coach.  It is a move that is supported by the Vikings players.  All of them, not just the minority players.  The Vikings did not interview anyone else for the position.

Yesterday, Jason Garrett held an end-of-the-year press conference.  While he skirted the questions about his coaching status, his answers clearly show that he is the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  However, because he is not a minority coach, the Cowboys must go through the charade of interviewing a minority candidate. 

To satisfy the Rooney Rule, Cowboys wide receivers coach Ray Sherman must suffer the indignity of being the token minority interview.  He deserves better. 

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Jason Garrett may or may not be the best head coaching candidate for the Cowboys.  Only time will tell if he is or isn’t.  But there is no way that Jerry Jones could hire any of his coaches if he isn’t going to hire Jason Garrett.  Ray Sherman was just as much a part of the Cowboys' miserable start as Garrett was.  He was also just as much a part of the second half turnaround as Garrett was.  Other than satisfying the Rooney Rule, what possible reason could the Cowboys have to even consider Ray Sherman? 

What if the Rooney Rule didn’t exist, and the Vikings hired one of the coaches on the staff instead of Leslie Frazier who had proven himself as the interim coach?  There would be justifiable outrage. 

The path of Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier is so strikingly similar that it is laughable that the Cowboys must go through the ruse of interviewing other candidates while Leslie Frazier has already been named the head coach of the Vikings.

If you ask the Cowboys players, all of them, not just the white players, will tell you that Jason Garrett deserves the job.  His answers to interview questions show that he already has the job, but must wait to be officially announced.

This is not the first time that the Vikings and Cowboys have been linked in a coaching search.

When the Cowboys hired Bill Parcells, they first had to interview a minority candidate.  At the time, Bill Parcells was the hottest name in coaching.  Jerry Jones satisfied the Rooney Rule by interviewing former Vikings coach Dennis Green on the phone.  Has any coach ever been hired based on a phone interview?

The Rooney Rule was put into place to give minority coaches the chance to compete for head coaching jobs.  It has served its purpose, and now it is time for it to go.

Leslie Frazier is the 13th minority head coach to be hired in the NFL.  Five of the previous 12 minority head coaches have been hired by more than one team. 

To date, 14 of the 32 NFL teams have hired a minority head coach.  Four teams have hired more than one minority head coach.

Unless Jerry Jones shocks the world and hires a coach other than Jason Garrett, the Rooney Rule served no purpose in the Cowboys' coaching search other than to insult Ray Sherman.

The world has changed and so has the NFL.  We have a black President and minority head coaches have led their teams to Super Bowl victories.  The time has come to stop the indignity of token interviews that do nothing to change the intentions of the owner making the hire.

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