It’s been a strange few weeks regarding the Redskins and the Rooney Rule.
And it officially will be getting stranger.
More than two weeks ago, the Redskins announced the resignation of executive V.P. of football operations Vinny Cerrato. A full 114 minutes later, the Redskins announced Bruce Allen as the new G.M.
In the wake of the move, it was disclosed that the Redskins pre-complied with the Rooney Rule by interviewing a minority candidate for the G.M. job before Cerrato quit, even though the Redskins and the NFL refused to identify the candidate. (Multiple subsequent reports indicated it was Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown.)
Then, word emerged that the Redskins had interviewed one or more in-house minority candidates for the head-coaching job, even though the head-coaching job was and still is held by Jim Zorn. Last Sunday night, Andrea Kremer of NBC reported that the Redskins interviewed secondary coach Jerry Gray with the blessing of the league — and with a finding by the Fritz Pollard Alliance that the interview complied with the Rooney Rule.
The Washington Post subsequently confirmed that the Fritz Pollard Alliance had concluded that the Redskins were in compliance, and thus that the Redskins could fire coach Jim Zorn and hire whomever they want.
Not so fast, Redskins.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the Redskins will be required to comply with the Rooney Rule after Zorn is fired.
Mort’s report, if accurate, clears up an ambiguous stance the league office has taken regarding whether a team may satisfy the Rooney Rule by interviewing a coaching candidate before there’s a coaching vacancy. Several weeks ago, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, as to the coaching job, there can be no compliance without a vacancy; last Sunday night, after Kremer’s report emerged, Aiello was a bit more equivocal.
So now it appears that the Redskins will be required to go through the motions — again — before anointing Shanahan as the next head coach of the team.
And it would be great if Gray and Greg Blache and any other minority candidate politely declines.
Frankly, if they have any self-respect, they will.