So this is what something as ambitious and honorable as the Rooney Rule has been reduced to -- something as small and see-through as two NFL teams beginning an immediate courtship of a white guy while offering up the flimsy charade of interviewing a token black guy while the master of this whole universe, Roger Goodell, nods his head in agreement.
The Redskins and Seahawks have violated the spirit, the intent and maybe even the execution of the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for a head coaching vacancy. The Redskins and Seahawks made a mockery of the Rooney Rule, but as far as Goodell is concerned, there's nothing to see here. Everything is rainbows, says Roger.
|The Redskins did nothing wrong by hiring Mike Shanahan; how they went about it is another story. (AP)|
Guess who got the job?
Some more rhetorical questions: Why even have the Rooney Rule? If the Redskins can circumvent the rule as transparently as they circumvented it, and if the Seahawks can absolutely ignore it, then why bother? Especially if the guy in charge of upholding the Rooney Rule, Goodell, won't do anything about it?
Better to go back to the old days, when teams did what they wanted and the NFL was a country for old white men, and minority candidates didn't have to start each hiring process with realistic dreams, only to end it with humiliating condescension.
Seattle broke the rule with stupid audacity. Washington broke the rule with crass creativity. And the thing is -- and I need fans in Washington and Seattle to pay attention to this sentence -- both hires would have been racially acceptable had the franchises simply done it the right way.
Mike Shanahan has won two Super Bowls and has a lifetime winning percentage of .598, which ranks 12th all-time among NFL coaches with at least 140 career victories. The Redskins got him. That's not an objectionable hire. That's a smart one.
Pete Carroll has been fired twice in the NFL, by the Jets in 1994 and the Patriots in '99, but his career record is still a sturdy 33-31 -- and since his NFL experience, he went to Southern California and reinvented himself with one of the most dominant coaching decades in college football history. The Seahawks are said to be getting him. That wouldn't be an objectionable hire, either. That would be a hopeful one.
But the way both franchises went about it ...
It was insulting, and it was wrong. Washington made its minority candidate, Jerry Gray, out to be a Judas -- and then didn't even reward him with his 30 pieces of silver. The Redskins "interviewed" Gray, their secondary coach, before they'd even fired Jim Zorn. They created a scenario where Gray wasn't just going over his boss' head -- he was bringing the guillotine with him. Shocking stuff, had Gray gotten the job. But he didn't.
So now Jerry Gray looks like a would-be traitor who couldn't finish the job, and that's not right. Gray didn't get what he deserved. Don't tell me he did. I'd tell you this: After spending years as a bright young coaching prospect, and getting passed over so proven failures like Eric Mangini and Dick Jauron and out-of-nowhere meteors like Lane Kiffin and Jim Zorn could get jobs, Jerry Gray had had enough. If the way to get a job was to be cutthroat and interview for a position that wasn't even vacant -- a position held by your own boss -- then that's what Jerry Gray was going to do. You see how that worked out for him.
And compared to Seattle, Washington handled the Rooney Rule delicately.
Seattle trampled over it in Enos "Country" Slaughter's old baseball spikes, pausing above the Rooney Rule long enough to wipe the dog crap from its feet. Poor Leslie Frazier. He was dog crap du jour, and I say that meaning no insult to Leslie Frazier -- but all kinds of insult to the Seattle Seahawks.
There is very little in life more irritating than a person who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. But there's nothing more irritating than a person who thinks he's smarter than everyone else ... when he isn't. That's whoever concocted the Seahawks' brazen circumvention of the Rooney Rule -- whoever he is, he thought he was smart enough to fool everyone else. And he wasn't. He wasn't close. Whoever concocted this plan actually thought this plot would work:
We're going to flirt with Pete Carroll ahead of time, and if we think he's willing to come, we'll fire Jim Mora Jr. after one season. But before we announce Carroll's hiring, we'll bring in a minority candidate to appease the Rooney Rule masses. Those dopes -- they'll never know!
Holy cow, do we know. And poor Leslie Frazier, the Vikings defensive coordinator. He deserved better than to be the token minority brought in to tour the front of the bus, only to be reminded at the end of the day that his seat was there in the back.
The Seahawks were no more subtle than a Joan Rivers facelift, but Goodell bought it. This is what Goodell told the Associated Press on Saturday when asked if the Seahawks -- and the Redskins -- have complied with the Rooney Rule:
"They have in both cases," Goodell said. "I can assure you they have complied with the rule with the information that I have. I mean, I've been in contact with them, so they've been in compliance. I can't give all the details, but they're in compliance."
You hear that? The Seahawks and Redskins complied because they said so. That was good enough for Roger Goodell. Makes me wonder how he ever nailed Michael Vick for dog fighting.
Vick lied at first, too.