As we pointed out in the Week 10 Monday 10-pack, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be tiptoeing through a minefield if interim coach Jason Garrett continues to win football games.
Under the Rooney Rule, Jones won’t be able to hand the permanent job to Garrett before the season ends, since Jones will be required to interview at least one minority candidate for the position.
And Jones knows it. As a result, he’s already talking about trying to get an “exemption” to the Rooney Rule.
“There are some extenuating circumstances that are involved here,” Jones said in his weekly appearance on KRLD radio, per Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “On my decision and how we make it, I’ll have the opportunity to present that to the league, so we’ll see how that goes. But I really can’t give you any type of answer there because I’m not so sure I’m through working the process.”
Frankly, there are no extenuating circumstances. Every team that fires a head coach during the season must hire an interim coach. And after the season the team must comply with the Rooney Rule when hiring the next permanent coach, an assignment which rarely has much permanence.
Jones easily could have avoided the problem by: (1) not firing former head coach Wade Phillips until the season ends; or (2) signing Garrett to a contract that promised to make him the head coach after Phillips’ tenure ends.
Either way, Jones should be saying nothing about “extenuating circumstances” or anything else to suggest that he plans to hire Garrett. Jones must keep his cards pressed against his vest. If minority candidates believe that Jones is merely dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s (like he did nearly eight years ago when conducting a perfunctory telephone interview of Dennis Green, which forced the league to thereafter require in-person interviews under the Rooney Rule), minority candidates won’t agree to interview for the job — and Jones will be unable to avoid violating the Rooney Rule.
Unless he gets an “exemption,” which is fancy talk for “the rules don’t apply to me.”