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Gray could have a hard time finding a job post-Redskins

Before Sunday night, multiple publications had reported that Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray had interviewed for the head-coaching job held by Jim Zorn.  (We also have reported that defensive coordinator Greg Blache interviewed for the job.)  At one point, Gray awkwardly failed to deny that he had been interviewed.

On Sunday night, NBC’s Andrea Kremer reported that Gray had indeed been interviewed, and she offered up intriguing details regarding the manner in which the Redskins had asked the NFL to declare that the interview constitutes compliance with the Rooney Rule’s requirement that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for every head-coaching vacancy, even though there wasn’t — and still isn’t — a head-coaching vacancy in D.C. 

Kremer also reported that the league deferred the question to John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, who somehow concluded that the interview wasn’t simply aimed at clearing the path for the Redskins to hire whomever they chose (i.e., Mike Shanahan), whenever they choose to do so (i.e., as soon as the plane returns from San Diego).

On Monday, Wooten confirmed in an interview with Rick Maese of the Washington Post that the Fritz Pollard Alliance believes the Redskins have complied with the Rooney Rule, even though the position for which Gray interviewed is still filled. 

“They have done what we look for in an interview, therefore, they have satisfied the Rooney Rule,” Wooten told Maese.

The irony here is that the Redskins’ pre-compliance with a rule aimed at creating opportunities for minority coaches in part by getting their names into the discussions that arise when coaching jobs become available has possibly killed Gray’s NFL career with any team other than the Redskins.

As one league insider explained it to us, no head coach will ever fully trust a man who interviews behind the head coach’s back for a job that the head coach still holds.

“Gray was on the radar screen as a potential head coach about five years ago,” the source said.  “Then,
he had to claw back to get back into the discussion as a coordinator.  There was no chance he was going to be the head coach of the Redskins.  If he doesn’t get
a lifetime contract from [Redskins owner Daniel] Snyder, he may not get another job because every head
coach and coordinator will wonder what he does when he is not in the room. 

“How
did [Gray] get on Snyder’s radar screen?  Was he undermining the head coach for a while? 
Snyder threw Gray under the bus to execute his senseless plan to keep [Jim Zorn] in the
head sets, and, in the process, he also undercut the value of the Rooney Rule.”

That’s our bigger concern.  The Fritz Pollard Alliance, by inexplicably agreeing that an interview conducted behind the back of a sitting head coach complies with the letter and the spirit of a procedure aimed at injecting fairness and diversity into the hiring process, has irreparably damaged the Rooney Rule.

Wooten apparently gave no thought to the precedent that he has created, and the blueprint has now been established for any other owner who hopes to dispense with annoying details like interviewing a minority candidate before hiring the white guy the owner already has determined he wants to hire.  (Under that approach, the team owned by the man for whom the Rooney Rule was named easily could have interviewed defensive backs coach Darren Perry for the job everyone knew Bill Cowher was going to leave after the 2006 season, and then the Steelers could have introduced Russ Grimm as the new head coach without ever casting a glance in the direction of Mike Tomlin.)

We’ll leave it to the real journalists to explore whether there might be some presently unknown quid pro quo that prompted Wooten’s application of a rubber stamp to an obvious sham.  For now, we believe that something about this entire process stinks, and that the league office either needs to take meaningful steps to punish the Redskins for engaging in a charade — or to scuttle completely the Rooney Rule, which under the interpretation applied by Wooten will do far more harm than good.

Besides, who made the Fritz Pollard Alliance the guardians of the Rooney Rule?  In our view, the league alone is responsible for applying it, and we believe the Commissioner should not have delegated the delicate question of pre-compliance with the rule to a man who possibly isn’t in the best position to realize what the Redskins were trying to pull off.  

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36 Responses to “Gray could have a hard time finding a job post-Redskins”
  1. hey-seuss says: Dec 29, 2009 10:22 AM

    People..we’re talking about a team called the REDSKINS. And you think they’re going to give a minority a fair shot at being head coach? LOL GET REAL.
    LONG LIVE THE ROONEY RULE!!!

  2. Favre On HGH says: Dec 29, 2009 10:24 AM

    He can take Dennis Green’s place as usual minority interview candidate when no one else wants to.
    If the Redskins were not such a circus to begin with I would think they are exposing the Rooney rule for the joke it is. Still might be, but hard to tell.
    Rule is all flash and no substance, kinda like the Vikings in December.

  3. rjgreen3 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:26 AM

    This is correct, who would want to hire someone who will stab you in the back! Buisness or not he is not to be trusted. He should know that The Skins weren’t going to hire him. The Skins needs an accomplished hc not a retread assistant coach! In the future other coaches will look at what has taken place in DC and know that he won’t have your back!

  4. Chris Fiorentino says: Dec 29, 2009 10:27 AM

    How about blowing up the Rooney Rule. It is stupid and in this day and age, totally unnecessary.

  5. scooby says: Dec 29, 2009 10:28 AM

    why dont the redskins just fire zorn already?

  6. AlanSaysYo says: Dec 29, 2009 10:29 AM

    You know what else has irreparably damaged the Rooney Rule? The fact that it’s a steaming pile of discriminatory crap.

  7. KingJoe! says: Dec 29, 2009 10:34 AM

    Anything that happens around the Redskins is a joke anyway. I really dont think anyone will give it a second thought, if Gray can do the job they want him for. The coach has alreday been told he wont be coaching next year and Zorn very well could have okayed Gray interviewing. Much behind the scenes stuff that the media isn’t privy too, can change the landscape of this situation rather quickly. So before anyone is labeled a back stabber, it might be best to wait for actual facts.

  8. ParkerFly says: Dec 29, 2009 10:37 AM

    Hard to believe Gray’s credibility has stooped down as low as Shanahan’s has. Shanny deserves to be roasted just as much as Gray is in this article.

  9. rockotica says: Dec 29, 2009 10:40 AM

    great analysis

  10. Cleg says: Dec 29, 2009 10:41 AM

    @AlasSaysYo – you’re an idiot.
    Florio – why would the league punish the Redskins? They’ve complied with the rule. Maybe the rule needs tweaking but there should be no punishment for the Redskins.

  11. Mean D says: Dec 29, 2009 10:42 AM

    Mike “Rooney Rule” Florio. The man is obsessed with it.

  12. reddog9 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:45 AM

    All you Deadskin fans putting your eggs in Shannahan’s basket are going to be upset in a couple of years once you realize that he is overrated! He has not won anything in over 10 years and he has had some of the worst defenses in the league……..the Skins have no talent on the O-line, RB and secondary. Jason Campbell will be escaping if possible (depending on the status of the CBA) and the free agent market for QBs is poor at best……..maybe little dannyboy will package his 2010 and 2011 1st round picks to the Bears for Jay Cutler………also overrated! Don’t kid yourselves, little dannyboy is still going to run the draft……actually his draft and free agent record is on par with Shannahans when he was in charge of personnel in Denver the last 3-4 years……..remember, he was the one that sign most of his D-linemen from the Cleveland Browns scrap heap!

  13. Hap says: Dec 29, 2009 10:45 AM

    Of course The RedButts, and anyone else for that matter, are going to ask that the league confirm compliance to The Rooney rule. If not, there are repercussions.
    There is NO WAY to make sure that the teams actually give an opportunity to any coach, regardless of their race. All any team has to do is say they gave someone an opportunity and they are cleared. It can’t really be policed. There is no way to verify IF a team was serious about the interview or not.

  14. HarrisonHits says: Dec 29, 2009 10:48 AM

    “As one league insider explained it to us, no head coach will ever fully trust a man who interviews behind the head coach’s back for a job that the head coach still holds.”
    That may not be entirely fair. With Snyder’s heavy handed tactics he may been “instructed” by Snyder that he either did the interview or would not likely have a job in the immediate future.
    “How about blowing up the Rooney Rule. It is stupid and in this day and age, totally unnecessary.”
    Racism is clearly alive and well in the US. We see examples of it all the time and while it is more subtle than it used to be, I see it all the time. I’m caucausian and I see it all the time in the tee hee little jokes other white people make when there are no minorities around, I see it blatantly expressed at times in far worse terms, and we all see it on message boards.
    The Rooney Rule may not be executed very well by the league, but something needs to be in place to make the process fair.

  15. JimmySmith says: Dec 29, 2009 10:49 AM

    Ok, Rooney gets to pay off the ref’s and win Superbowls that his team couldn’t otherwise win but how far are they going to carry this joke just to keep his namesake rule in place?

  16. DaCrusher says: Dec 29, 2009 10:49 AM

    Move on Florio. Starting to sound like a broken record here. Redskins complied with an outdated rule. NFL has made significant process in this area. Bottom line is that teams are going to hire who they want in the end regardless of the rules in place. The good teams will hire based on qualifications/fit within their organization, the rest get what they deserve.

  17. tombrookshire says: Dec 29, 2009 10:50 AM

    Which means that the Rooney Rule is a joke. Teams see it as an obstacle to overcome and not a way of getting more minority candidates into the mix. Pre-compliance with the rule is the ultimate CYA…..

  18. buckeye044 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:53 AM

    Rooney rule is a joke. Go back to the Cowboys and Bill Parcells. Teams that know they are going to make a change will interview out of work coaches, hire one, then go thru the stupid process just to make it appear that all rules are covered.

  19. joshington says: Dec 29, 2009 10:53 AM

    What a joke the Rooney Rule is anyway. Snyder decided months ago who his coach is and they probably agreeed to a deal in October or November. The selection of Mike Shanahan has nothing to do with the color of his skin. The “Rooney Rule” is nothing more than Affirmitave Action for sports created to appease politicians griping that there aren’t enough minorities coaching. The fans don’t care and the players don’t care so why should you?

  20. dcfan-1212450 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:54 AM

    I think the key point missed in all this is Gray is not a hire of Jim Zorn. Jim Zorn did not pick his staff. I think that plays a huge part in all this. Will Gray be working in the NFL again, absolutely. How is he expected to be loyal to a man he doesn’t even feel he works for, doesnt respect, and probably doesn’t like. And Gray did not interview for the head coaching job behind Zorns back, he did it in his face. But Zorn didn’t quit as expected, and the Redskins decided not to fire him yet as the man they want as a head coach did not want to take over mid year (Shanahan). If you fire Zorn during the season, promote another coach for the interem job, and he does decent or even well, it would screw the Redskins and their plans with Shanahan. They would be forced to completely restaff as a loyalty issue may arise to this new interem coach. Zorn does not deserve what he has gotten, but based on how Snyder and the Skins front office wants to proceed (since they overpay coaches too), you have to throw Zorn under the bus by himself at seasons end. Pity not a single writer, columnist, blogger, or talk show host has gone in to detail to explain this. Its complex yes, but thats how messed up our organization is in Washington…

  21. Kegowhisky says: Dec 29, 2009 10:58 AM

    Florio, as much as I love your reporting, it’s time to stop beating a dead horse. With the amount of money involved, owners are going to do what they need to do to hire the person they believe will be best in the job. That’s what they’re entitled to by virtue of owning the team. If the most qualified person is a minority, then they’ll be hired. Key point here: The league said what the Redskins did was legal. End of story.

  22. Big Stretch says: Dec 29, 2009 11:05 AM

    Rooney rule is a joke. Tell me what available coach out there is better than Cowher or Shanahan? The fact that a team needs to bring in a “token” black applicant is insulting to black coaches.

  23. cowboyssuck says: Dec 29, 2009 11:07 AM

    “Punish the Redskins?” You can’t punish the Redskins for this because they obviously took the steps to see if these underhanded tactics would work. The league said yes because the Fritz Pollard Alliance said yes. Punish yourself, Mike, for picking the Redskins for the Superbowl, but this one is on the Alliance and the league. Moving forward, they need to tighten the obvious loophole. P.S. Have a nice day.

  24. howiseeit says: Dec 29, 2009 11:13 AM

    @dcfan-1212450 — How the hell would anybody ever be successful if it only mattered if they were hired by the person that they worked for? Loyalty, trust and respect for the chain of command is integral to success. For someone not to recognize this is astonishing. And since he openly defied and stabbed Zorn in the back well then, of course, that’s alright. I said it yesterday on another post – he is a Tool and an Uncle Tom. Nothing posted by anyone since has changed my mind and that is regardless of the organization and its failures as a whole.

  25. dead money says: Dec 29, 2009 11:17 AM

    Florio WTF is your problem with skirting rules legally? Your an effing LAWYER for Christ’s sake! They typically get paid to find questionable ways around laws and regulations!!! Get off your high horse already.
    Why all the attention for a 4-12 team that will be rebuilding for the next 5 years due to the damage their management has inflicted over the past several…
    Beating a dead horse much? You should really concentrate on pertinent NFL news… How about talking about the Haynesworth tampering some more? LMAO

  26. jamaltimore says: Dec 29, 2009 11:18 AM

    Another of Snyder’s Lackies helping him skirt the rules. The beauty of this is that Beltbuckle Boy manipulates the system to be able to do anything he wants! For an owner who knows what he’s doing this may be helpful. For the worst owner in pro sports this normally turns out to only create worse problems for his team.
    Can’t wait till he gets what he wishes and fails. Shanahan is an old ,tired and lucky coach who had HOF qb and HOF rb change his fortunes. Redskins have none of those players and double the dysfunction. The familiar thing in dc is to blame the old regime but that will last only until season 3 when he’s fired.

  27. Scott22 says: Dec 29, 2009 11:20 AM

    Heaven forbid that the Redskins should hire whoever they want whenever they want. It’s not like they will be tying up millions of dollars in a coach. The NFL should appoint the head coaches that the owners will have to pay their money to. The teams obviously can not be trusted to hire the best man for the job so just take the whole process over for them and let them know who they hired. Hey Florio, you were right, sarcasm really doesn’t translate that well to the written word.

  28. bigbillnocmd says: Dec 29, 2009 11:21 AM

    Enough with the Rooney Rule Florio. It’s a mute point. Danny wants a coach that meets one requirement and one requirement only. Have a super bowl ring. Dungy already said he wasn’t coaching (that kind of crosses off any coach of color). Any interview from here on out is a complete “sham” and the skins did not create it. I don’t know of any other coaches that are black and have a super bowl ring as a head coach and meet that specific requirement. Get over it.
    If your not named Shanahan and your interviewing for the head coaching job in d.c. i have news for you. You wont be hired!

  29. Cranbo says: Dec 29, 2009 11:23 AM

    Ummm, it is actually more important to talk about how messed up the process is rather than whether the Coach or G.M. being interviewed is black or white. We’ll never move forward as a country if people keep focused on color over qualifications.
    Jerry Gray has been considered a head coach candidate in the past, and is a fantastic secondary coach. It is more wrong of Snyder to interview ANYONE while there is a head coach in office than the fact he interviewed Gray for the position.
    Would you have been just as upset if Snyder interviewed Dennis Green for the position, or a college coach who happens to be a minority? Isn’t it unfair to Jerry Gray that according to you just because he works for the Redskins he is the only minority that can’t apply for the head coaching job?
    Why such a fascination on this point, Florio?

  30. BBrophy1 says: Dec 29, 2009 12:12 PM

    translation = Al Davis has moved Jerry Gray to the top of his defensive coordinator wish list, if not his head coach list

  31. drbob1117 says: Dec 29, 2009 12:26 PM

    Journalists like Florio have been pretty disingenuous during this whole process. It’s ridiculous to spend months writing that Jim Zorn is a puppet head coach who was stripped of all meaningful duties in October, and who will certainly be fired on January 3, and then turn around and say the Rooney Rule was not followed because technically, Zorn is the coach for a few more days and the job is not vacant. Anyone who has even seen a Redskins game this year knows that this coach is getting fired, and this job is vacant. The letter of the Rooney Rule was followed, they had an African American asst. coach on staff, they interviewed him. Gray still got his interview experience which is part of what the Pollard group wanted when they made this absurd rule; they even told all African American assistants to do the interview whether or not they felt that they were a viable candidate for the job. The rule undermines legit coaches like Mike Tomlin, who is a terrific coach who has won a Super bowl, but because of this rule, there will always be racists, or people with other agendas that say he got the job due to the Ronney Rule. Gray probably didn’t make a great career move by interviewing while Zorn was still there, but like others have said, he wasn’t Zorn’s guy to begin with. Also, other head coaches might excuse it because Snyder put Gray in an impossible situation; he really wasn’t in a position to tell his boss to go pound sand. Finally, if Gray had wowed them at the interview, nothing would have stopped the Skins from hiring him on the spot, that’s one of the reasons they want you to take the interview regardless of what you think your chances are. Sure, they’re hiring Shanahan, but they followed the rule, such that it is, the way it was written.

  32. slipkid says: Dec 29, 2009 12:43 PM

    two sides to the coin. snyder is a jackass and who says he wouldnt have blackballed blache and/or gray with the other owners if they hadnt “submitted to” interviews for the hc job?
    ya lie down with dogs, the fleas are included.
    that being said, the rooney rule is, to quote fidel castro, “boolsheet”.
    roger, on this one, didnt have the balls to enforce his own supposed rule without more peecee guidance from self-appointed obama-ites.
    despite him being an a-hole, snyder can interview anyone he wants to for any job under him whenever he wants to. that’s what it means to be “the owner”.

  33. dcfan-1212450 says: Dec 29, 2009 12:49 PM

    @howiseeit
    I said it yesterday on another post – he is a Tool and an Uncle Tom. Nothing posted by anyone since has changed my mind and that is regardless of the organization and its failures as a whole.
    ________________________________
    How exactly is Gray an Uncle Tom? Since when does interviewing for a head coaching job behind the coaches back refer to being a poster boy african american to his white superiors…? Since when does Snyder get considered anyones true superior? So what the hell are you really talking about? You just pulled out Uncle Tom in reference to the Rooney Rule buddy, and the logic behind that makes little sense. I see your point but cmon dude, try calling Gray an Uncle Tom to his face instead of behind his back which you feel is so unworthy, and see what happens…

  34. PUR-D33 says: Dec 29, 2009 1:16 PM

    Way out in left field here, but I guess that goes with most columns on this site….
    What if Zorn and Snyder made a hush hush agreement that Zorn will resign at the end of the season and Snyder agreed to pay him the remaining balance on his contract as compensation? That way Zorn could bow out gracefully (if that’s possible) and Snyder could save face. And if that’s the case, Snyder would relay said agreement to the FPA and NFL that there is actually a head coaching vacancy for next year and wanted to get started on the interview process. Thus complying with the Rooney rule. Just a thought.

  35. jdusaf says: Dec 30, 2009 11:00 AM

    How dumb are the Redskins? How easy would this have been to fix?
    Fire Zorn four weeks ago and pay him, put Gray in as interim head coach. You have now satisfied the Rooney rule and not sabotaged his future career options.
    Quite humorous that a team famous for throwing piles of money around wanted to get Zorn to quit so they didnt have to pay him. Now the Redskins look like the fools.

  36. Darron says: Dec 30, 2009 11:36 AM

    The whole idea behind this doesn’t make sense.
    If the Redskins have truly decided on hiring Shanahan, then ANY minority they interview is necessarily a sham, be it before or after Zorn is fired, and by someone already employed by the team or not. That person has no shot.
    Does this violate the spirit of the Rooney Rule? Absolutely. But in a case where a highly qualified former coach is in the mix, what are teams supposed to do? They are run by men, and men have thoughts, feelings, and opinions. THOSE CAN’T BE CHANGED BY A RULE! It is impossible to legislate thoughts, only actions. If Snyder thinks that Shanahan is the best guy for the job, there is no rule that can change his mind. Forcing them to interview other people (minorities or not) is just stupid and degrading to the poor sap being interviewed.
    Proposed change to the Rooney Rule: Compliance isn’t required if the only people interviewed for the job all have previous head coaching experience. This way, when teams are locked on to a well-qualified candidate, they don’t need to do a sham interview. And those searches that really are open always have a minority candidate.

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