By all appearances, the Eagles hired coach Doug Pederson before they were allowed to hire him, whether through a direct agreement or a wink-nod or something in between. If there was an agreement — or even an agreement to reach an agreement — before the Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs, the Eagles violated the applicable rules regarding the hiring of coaches whose current teams are still playing.
The league has no comment on the situation, and the topic wasn’t among the many raised by reporters during Tuesday’s press conference introducing Pederson as the new coach.
One question came close to putting Pederson on the spot, but he avoided the aspect of the inquiry that focused on the timing of the actual hire.
“Can you describe what the search process was like for you and what the timeline was from when you met with the Eagles, I guess it was that Sunday, through Thursday when they hired you?” Pederson was asked. “It seemed like they were also looking at some other guys and just kind of what your thoughts were during that whole four or five days.”
“First of all, it was a tremendous honor to be even mentioned and then obviously having an interview,” Pederson replied. “It has been a dream and a goal of mine. I think you get into this league, one, by being the best coach you can be in whatever that role is. But as you are on teams that are successful, you begin to kind of climb the ladder so to speak. So to be mentioned with the guys that were mentioned here and were interviewed here, I felt honored and privileged. It was a little tough because we were still in the postseason, so trying to separate preparing for an interview and getting ready for a football game, you know, and keeping those two things separate, it was tough. I’m not going to lie, it was tough. But it was something — because we were getting ready to play Houston, and everything was obviously very successful down there in Houston at that time. But the preparation part I think was easy, because it was about being yourself when you go into those things and showing who you actually and really are.”
The question implied that Pederson was hired on Thursday of last week, two days before the Kansas City season ended. Pederson opted not to refute nor to confirm that presumption, a wise move given that he would have only invited more questions if he’d said, “Well, I wasn’t hired on Thursday. I was hired only after the Chiefs were eliminated.”
The circumstantial evidence suggests that he was hired on Thursday of last week, from the team’s announcement that its search was over to the reports at the time that Pederson was the guy to the eventual hiring of Pederson. While that timeline bothers some executives with other teams because the rules are the rules and the NFL shouldn’t enforce the rules only when it decides it needs to enforce the rules in order to punish someone the NFL wants to punish, no one seems to really care.
The rule that the Eagles may have violated is a stupid, impractical, outdated rule. If the league has come to that realization, the rule should be eliminated and not ignored without consequence. Which is precisely what seems to be the case with the Pederson hire; the Eagles broke the rule, and the NFL by all appearances is going to give them a pass.
Which is fine, until some other team potentially violates another bright-line rule on a different topic and the NFL decides to bring in Ted Wells (or whoever becomes the league’s new Ted Wells), deems the team guilty, and proceeds to hand out fines, draft-pick forfeitures, and suspensions.