Head of Fritz Pollard Alliance “livid” over Browns G.M. hire

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John Wooten, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, rarely takes issue with arguably questionable efforts by NFL teams to comply with the letter and spirit of the Rooney Rule. With respect to Cleveland’s bang-bang hiring of G.M. John Dorsey, on the same day executive V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown was fired, Wooten isn’t happy.

“I think John Dorsey is a very top quality G.M.,” Wooten told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “I am livid that the Browns would totally ignore the work all of us to make the Rooney Rule meaningful.”

The Browns contend that they complied with the Rooney Rule. Like the Chiefs earlier this year, however, the Browns have declined to disclose how and when they complied. Based on a separate statement that Wooten gave to ESPN, it appears that the Browns did not comply by interviewing one of the recommended minority candidates.

Some have suggested that the Browns complied via a vague interview of former 49ers coach Mike Singletary, which occurred in recent weeks. But how could Singletary be regarded as a viable candidate to be a General Manager? He got into coaching more than a decade after his playing career ended, and he has never worked as a scout. The notion that he’d instantly be qualified to be a G.M. is nearly as laughable as someone buying a team and making himself the G.M. (which has been done, amazingly).

It’s also unclear whether the Browns complied with the Rooney Rule by interviewing minority candidates before Brown was fired. Washington pulled that move when hiring Mike Shanahan to replace Jim Zorn, interviewing then-assistant Jerry Gray before actually firing Zorn. The league regarded that ruse as sufficient compliance with the Rooney Rule.

Yes, the Browns have a minority head coach and had, until today, a minority executive who ran the entire football operation. But there’s no exception to the Rooney Rule based on past hires; as to coaching, G.M., and other high-level jobs, at least one minority candidate must be interviewed.

Even if the Browns found a way to clumsily check the box, the spirit of the rule apparently was ignored. And it’s likely that the league, based on an established lack of diligence and transparency in matters of this nature, will not be inclined to find that a violation occurred.

The fact that the league will give the Browns a pass doesn’t mean Wooten, the media, or anyone else should. If a rule on the books isn’t going to be respected, the rule should be scrapped. And in the same year that the man for whom the rule was named died, it would be nice to see teams go out of their way to honor the rule — especially when the team in question is currently owned by someone who previously owned a significant chunk of the Steelers.

106 responses to “Head of Fritz Pollard Alliance “livid” over Browns G.M. hire

  1. Get over it. The Rooney Rule promotes racism. The Browns have minority head coach and a minority starting QB. I think we can give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not racists.

  2. So if you got the right man for the job, and the team feels he is the right man for the job. You’d rather they put on a show and waste people’s time, minorities or not, with fake-pointless interviews!? Gotcha.

  3. The point of the Rooney rule, and ideally any other diversity initiative is to provide a benefit to both sides. Candidates who may not be afforded opportunities because they do not fit the stereotype (executives=white males, for example). Minority’s can benefit by interviewing and ideally standing on their own merits rather than preconceptions. The teams benefit by allowing alternative viewpoints and experiences to be added to their own stable of information and allow to grow in ways they may not otherwise. Ignoring divisersity initiatives is a failure to both sides where benefits can be had for all. So…the Browns are still the Browns.

  4. Ridiculous. Failed GM and failed HC, both black, they abided by the spirit of the rule beyond what most teams have done

  5. Cleveland Owners called and asked The Ronneys and they said “The Browns are good” That is the first time anyone has said that in over 40 years.

  6. The whole nonsensical affirmative action rule in the NFL needs to be struck down, the paper it was printed on burnt, and the ashes from the paper shot into outer space. Does anyone really think a team would not hire the best person for one of their most important jobs simply because the person was black??? Maybe in days long gone by when some actually believed that QB’s couldn’t be black because black people weren’t smart enough, but in this century??? Aside from that it’s a total sham anyway. IF a teams owner WERE racist, they could easily just go through the motions before hiring who they really want.

  7. “If a rule on the books isn’t going to be respected, the rule should be scrapped.”
    Agreed. It should be scrapped.

  8. It is reported that thge Brownss did interview a minority candidate. What now, Wooten has to declare the guy worthy?

  9. This rule, while it came from a good place, has gotten out of hand. The team’s in trouble because the skin color of their hire is not pleasing to someone. Come on man. Tell me that’s not racism.

  10. No one cares. Teams will hire the best candidate regardless of race. Making a minority candidate interview with a team that has no intention of hiring them is a disgrace to the minority candidate and an insult. “Come in minority, welcome to my office. We’re going to fake interview you real quick just so we can check the box on a form.”

  11. I believe a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.

    It sounds like the Browns have had no problem not only interviewing minority candidates, but hiring them as well. I think it would be prudent to wait for more facts to come out before ringing the racist bell.

  12. The Rooney rule is stupid. How about not having token interviews and letting teams that hire the wrong guy suffer the consequences. If a minority is the best person for the job than the team that hires that person will get the benefit. I can’t imagine a team that has some sort or biased being swayed by a forced interview.

  13. Shouldn’t the spirit of the Rooney Rule to provide unbiased, equal consideration to candidates with no basis on race? John Dorsey was clearly the top target for the Browns and no interviews would have changed that. Isn’t it worse to force them to drag in a candidate to interview for a job they know there is no chance at getting? I guess the positive publicity of being interviewed is one advantage, but it doesn’t seem like enough to offset it.

  14. Yeah. Got to get that affirmative action box checked to prove how diverse you are. Looks like they hired the best man for the job, that should be enough. The bigger question is why the hell would anyone accept that position with the browns.

  15. Dumb rule. Scrap it! The team should be allowed to interview and hire whomever they will damn please. They pay the bill and dont need to pretend to be interested in someone they are not to satisfy an outdated rule.

  16. My only issue with this post is the part about singletary being incapable of being a GM because he was never a scout. How much scouting did John Lynch have under his belt when he got the gm job in San Francisco?

    I agree that the whole purpose of the Rooney rule is to ensure people of all colors get equal opportunity for these jobs, but I do have some issues with it. First, it forces owners to give half assed interviews to candidates they don’t want, just to satisfy the Rooney rule. That is stupid. Second, even when minority candidates are given an opportunity, which is all this rule was designed to afford them, an opportunity, if they don’t land the job, we hear about how racist the league still is.

  17. John Lynch is a GM. Never a scout or coach, but he’s a GM. So, Singletary as a candidate isn’t that far-fetched. If they interviewed him for the job, then he’s a credible compliance with the rule. It’s that simple.

  18. “He got into coaching more than a decade after his playing career ended, and he has never worked as a scout. The notion that he’d instantly be qualified to be a G.M. is nearly as laughable as someone”…. who got into broadcasting after retirement, but qualified as the GM of the 49ers, i.e. John Lynch, without ever coaching/scouting/ back office accounting?

    Crazy things happen, like making a baseball guy the head of your football team or hiring a broadcaster to create your team, or hiring your Hall of Fame QB to be GM/ VP of football ops even though he was most successful after football as a car dealership owner.
    It was all laughable then, so who knows, maybe they truly did want to hear what he had to say & it is the Browns we are talking about, laughable is kind of their M.O.

  19. Why does this matter? What occurred is normal in any line of business. The browns fired someone who did not do their job and hired the person they felt most qualified to replace him. The race stuff just needs to stop.

  20. The browns interviewed a black guy, so what if it wasn’t a black guy from “the recommended list” if he wasn’t getting the job Anyways?

  21. why Is this even a rule in 2017 when blacks and whites have equal opportunities?

    I’m pretty sure if a black guy was qualified for a job as a gm he’d get the job.

    This rule just seems racists to me

  22. If Singletary is not suitable to be a GM based on what you are writing, please explain how John Elway is…

    And void that rule already, it had meaning once but not anymore!

  23. John Lynch wasn’t a viable candidate for GM and the 49ers hired him. It could be believable that Mike Singeltary was interviewed.

    I think the Rooney Rule can be a slap in the face sometimes. In this case, the Browns clearly had their sights set on John Dorsey, why have a minority candidate come in for a fake interview just to comply with a rule? Wouldn’t that be disrespectful to the minority?

  24. The rule is racist and should go away. Why are we judging people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character?

  25. What difference does it really make if the Browns just hire a GM without going through the hoops, or if they play the game and “show” the world they complied but hired Dorsey anyway?

    In the end it’s just check the box. Unfortunately.

  26. “I am livid that the Browns would totally ignore the work all of us to make the Rooney Rule meaningful.”

    No amount of work can make that joke of a rule, meaningful.

  27. the rule is archaic. it served its purpose. owners, GMs and the like are now aware that other creeds, colors and religions are viable for all openings. they’ve been exposed to what was new waters 20 years ago. if anything the team should be commended for hiring Brown and going along with his vision. unfortunately the impatience of ownership and the fans led to his release. He’ll wind up in another front office where he can put his skill to better use. let them move on, and if this guy fails too, he’ll get canned as well.

  28. SanFran hired John Lynch “out of the booth”. At least Singletary coached –so saying Singletary would not be viable based upon experience would not be accurate considering Lynch and his background.
    Not arguing whether Lynch has done well or not, just making a point on what some teams consider a “viable” candidate.
    Denver also hired John Elway–how was he any more a “viable” candidate than Singletary?

  29. “I think John Dorsey is a very top quality G.M.,” Wooten told Jarrett Bell of USA Today.

    That should be the end of the story then. Hire based on merit.

  30. Well, this story will draw the usual white guy comments about how the Rooney Rule is outdated, unneeded, or actually bad for African-Americans. White guys deciding what is “best” for blacks. Nothing much has really changed in the last 150 years.

  31. Maybe Jimmy Haslam didn’t fully comply because he, like me, doesn’t see color. He had no idea that Dorsey was white because he doesn’t think that way. It’s a shame that the rest of you are so caught up in your own bigotry by recognizing race at all.

    Just kidding, Haslam has already defrauded countless trucking companies and browns fans and just made a mockery of the Tennessee coaching situation. Tell the Fritz Pollard Alliance that the line forms to the left and to be sure to attend the 0-16 parade in January.

  32. I laugh at the Rooney Rule. Why? Because teams are going to hire whom they want to hire regardless of that rule.
    The Packers had a very good defensive coordinator years ago named Ray Rhodes. He had been head coach of the Eagles and had two 10 and 6 seasons. So when the Packers Mike Holmgren left to go to Seattle, they gave him the HC job. He was not a good HC with the Packers — not even close. He looked clueless at times during games. So after an 8 and 8 season, they fired him. It immediately caused an uproar among black leaders like Al Sharpton. He very strongly implied that Rhodes’s firing was about his color. It was total b.s.
    I am a long time Packers fan and I loved it when they gave him the job, but half way into the season I saw how bad he was and wanted him gone. So did the great majority of all Packers fans.
    The reaction by many blacks when they fired Rhodes lead me to wonder why any NFL team would hire a minority for HC after they saw the reaction when the Packers fired Rhodes. It’s a no-win situation in some ways, and that was one of them for the Packers.
    The thing I have to believe is that there aren’t too many owners who wouldn’t want a minority for HC if they are good at what they do. The object is to win and these owners want to do that at all costs. If there are owners who feel otherwise, they’re probably owners of perpetually losing teams.

  33. And then the reason the Rooney Rule is needed. Teams will just keep the “good ole boys” network in place unless change is forced. Fail with one team? Don’t worry! We’ve got another spot waiting for you!

    But then again, it’s the Frowns. It’s not like this hire will ever bear success.

  34. This rule is insulting for everyone! We will never evolve as a society when color of skin is a determining factor for any position in any walk of life. It’s insulting to the candidates- “you’re getting an interview because…” It’s insulting to the owners- “you own the team but can’t pick who you want to interview.”
    You know who should be upset and livid? BROWNS’ FANS! Look at the results from the past regimes, several of which (Ray Farmer, Sashi Brown) were minorities. If you can do the job (which everyone thinks Dorsey can) I don’t care about his skin color. If you can’t do the job, I don’t care either! Get past the color of skin and look at qualifications for the job. Novel concept. Huh???

  35. Ah yes the Rooney Rule. How dare you hire who you want to without first wasting a bunch of time and money to interview someone you have no interesting in hiring.

  36. The “Rooney Rule” is a racist attempt to force private business to interview minority candidates. Are GM, Ford, Verizon, Apple, etc. required to interview people of color for their companies? Of course not. Private business should be able to interview and hire whoever they think is the best for the job.

  37. Haven’t the last two GM’s been African Americans? Obviously, they thought Farmer and Brown were the best candidates. Isn’t Dorsey considered to be one of the best prospective candidates out there? I don’t get it. Other teams interview minority candidates with no intention of hiring them and the Browns actually hire them if they think they’re the best candidate. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?

  38. sunnyd89 says:
    December 8, 2017 at 7:22 am

    If John Lynch can be hired as a GM why couldn’t Mike Singletary?
    —————————————————————————————————————-
    That is an extremely good point.

  39. How much longer until there’s a rule that mandates women be interviewed, then black women, then transgenders?

    The Rooney Rule was good when there was no opportunity for minorities. That’s not necessarily the case now.

  40. “Job hires should be based on merit. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    Should be, but we all know that this is not the case. Hires for significant positions are based mainly on connections (who you/your family knows, where you went to school, etc.). Merit has little to do with it. Whining about non-merit based hiring not only ignores reality, but is also usually just a dog whistle to express support for not allowing minority advancement.

  41. I don’t think there were any protests from anyone when Sashi Brown was hired and no non-minority candidates were interviewed. Let’s be consistent here, Wooten, stop playing the racism card, for all American’s sake…

  42. Blah-Blah-Blah… I for one am really tired of hearing about the Rooney Rule. Get over yourself Wooten, sometimes the rule gets in the way of getting the guy you want.

  43. So the man for the job who is very qualified should wait until they interview a sufficient number of minority candidates. What if someone else offers him a job in the meantime. Timing is everything you have to strike when you find the person you want.

  44. Rooney Rule…. stupidest rule in history. These guys would give their left nut to win so to suggest that a quality minority candidate would be passed on because of the color of his skin is ludicrous. Jerry Jones would hire Rue Paul if he could deliver a Super Bowl to Dallas and so would every other owner. Enough with the political correctness and get back to common sense.

  45. The Rooney Rule in itself is flawed because someone else decides who is or is not qualified to interview for your job not to mention a slap in the face to those people on that list. On top of that the Browns should be the last team anyone should be calling out as racist. Two black head coaches and two black GMs in the last 17 years and all four were hired without interviewing anyone else.

    The first team to draft black players when the league was still segregated with the current owner who was the first to publicly stand behind his players when the president dumped on them probably isn’t racist.

  46. It’s ironic that a league with ZERO African American owners is forcing it’s teams’s to interview minority candidates to show how in-racist it is.

    The only racism exists at the top, in all sports. Sports is the ultimate equalizer, where talent and merit ALWAYS win out, except ownership. Most owners in pro sports are old white guys who were bequeathed a fortune. The only chance an African American has of becoming an owner in professional sports is if they are among the greatest athletes to ever live (Michael Jordan/Magic Johnson). The problem exists at the top, not anywhere else.

  47. So the Browns interviewed candidates before they fired the GM. Sounds like proper business planning to me.

  48. This decision shows a deep rooted bias in the NFL against… Analytics. As a proponent of Analytics (Football Outsiders, et al) I wanted to see the browns succeed as it was the only team willing to openly embrace them, they had a process similar to what Hinkie was trying with the 76ers (and we see that after Hinkie got fired, the process is paying off). I feel the failures of the staff included many things not related to analytics (such as failing to file paperwork for McCarron).

    And now who knows if any NFL team will be willing to let Analytics people run their front office again… (there is a pretty good rant about what happened by Aaron Schatz over at Football Outsiders).

  49. Oh boy. That’s all we need. Another excuse to rest on a knee during the singing of the national anthem. Better add a few million to the pledge, Roger.

  50. That rule isn’t about hiring minority candidates….it’s about a dog and pony show for anyone watching….which is no one (that isn’t racist).

  51. Rooney Rule, the most ridiculous rule I have ever seen. I own a company and I be damn if anyone is going to tell me who I have to interview to fill a position. Next they are going to tell you what food you have to serve. Get rid of this (reverse discrimination) rule.

  52. So let me get this straight the Browns have a black coach, black qb, and mostly black roster but because the GM isn’t black they’re racist? I’ve never understood affirmative action quotas.

  53. The Browns had their candidate. Who is to say what constitutes a token interview? Especially if you are required by law to interview someone other than the person you intended to hire. It is difficult to argue that a minority candidate was more qualified than Dorsey and his availability was the reason for the move. The Browns do have a minority coach. The man that Dorsey is replacing is also a minority. The man that that man replaced is a minority. It seems like the Rooney rule is outdated and misguided. If the intent is truly about getting protected classes opportunities, why no mandate on interviewing women or Asian Americans? They are far more underrepresented in NFL management and coaching than African Americans. They would certainly broaden the culture and perspective if given the opportunity.

  54. Though not optimal, not sure the term “laughable” would apply to Singletary being a GM candidate. I believe both John Lynch and Matt Millen got those roles after spending prior years as broadcasters. Seems being in coaching would make Mike more of a candidate than being in TV.

  55. The Rooney Rule at the time it came about while included all hiring it really was focusing at the time on coaching. I think what they wanted the interviews for is that sometimes (not often) some people hit a grand slam and knock the interviewers socks off. Anyhoo ! Like many policies and rules the original intention gets taken to a place that it was not meant to be.

  56. So, the Browns didn’t talk with Berry, the stripped down GM or Opara and Vega, employed by the Browns since 2005/2006 who are the lead scouts? Ignorance of the org chart is no excuse.

  57. I’m not sure if people here write ridiculous things in order to back up their position, whether they do it to incite others, or if it is just a plain manifestation of ignorance.

    To say the Rooney Rule is racist is ridiculous. It does NOT require any team to hire a minority person or that they be given preference in hiring, nor is there any quota. It simply requires that teams consider (interview) one minority person for head coaching and senior operations positions.

    With that said, and acknowledging that I do believe, as others have mentioned above, that there are benefits to minority candidates for going through the process, I’m not convinced that application of the rule does much to honor the intent of the rule. Which then often makes it a farce (seems to be an NFL pattern) even when the rule is applied properly. Isn’t it possible that while a minority candidate may learn from the interview process, that the next team looking could think ‘I wonder why they didn’t hire him?’

    Seems to me that any smart organization has their eyes open and are looking for the best PEOPLE to run their team. But maybe not, since we do see a lot of recycling of people; and it’s possible that some teams just don’t have a clue.

    I’m not going to claim to know what the best solution is, because I don’t, nor am I going to make absurd statements to justify my position, but why have a rule if it is not going to be followed?

  58. I remember all the times John Elway and John Lynch day around at the scouting combine and discussed how their work as a scout would some day lead to a GM job. That logic is just as bad as the Rooney rule

  59. Ohh cry me a freaking river! The Rooney Rule just promotes racism, it’s a stupid rule and should be gotten rid of. If an owner of a team is going to pay a GM millions of dollars to run his organization, he should be about to hire who he wants.

  60. So, the Rooney Rule is really the Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance rule? That’s a lot of power. I remember Wooten from the Ray Horton incident. Wooten said Horton was insulted by the Titans and Horton said he wasn’t insulted. Wooten sounds like a guy that enjoys making organizations uncomfortable. It’s great he has you on his side.

  61. It’s a dumb rule anyway. Where do you draw the line? The Japanese are some of the best baseball players in the world but there’s no such rule as the Nitendo rule in Major League Baseball for hiring Asian Managers. I thought the Rooney rule was only for the head coaching position anyway, no?

  62. So serious question…

    Does anyone out there actually believe that in this day and age a credible NFL franchise would choose a less qualified GM/Coach/Whatever candidate over a better one simply due to the more qualified one being a minority?

    Granted, I used the term credible so one could argue that this doesn’t apply to the Browns.

    Seriously though, most NFL owners would sell their children if it guaranteed them a Super Bowl, pretty sure hiring a minority if he is the best guy is pretty much a non issue.

    Plus, considering that the Browns have an African American coach and starting QB It’s safe to say they prob aren’t a prejudiced organization

    Look, Racism is alive and well in many segments of America, this just isn’t one of them.

  63. topcide says:
    December 8, 2017 at 11:27 am

    So serious question…

    Does anyone out there actually believe that in this day and age a credible NFL franchise would choose a less qualified GM/Coach/Whatever candidate over a better one simply due to the more qualified one being a minority?

    Granted, I used the term credible so one could argue that this doesn’t apply to the Browns.

    Seriously though, most NFL owners would sell their children if it guaranteed them a Super Bowl, pretty sure hiring a minority if he is the best guy is pretty much a non issue.

    Plus, considering that the Browns have an African American coach and starting QB It’s safe to say they prob aren’t a prejudiced organization

    Look, Racism is alive and well in many segments of America, this just isn’t one of them.
    ———————————————————————————

    The answer is yes. The current system basically has owners picking candidates out of a pool of names and the Rooney Rule makes sure that the minorities in that pool are at least getting an interview instead of ignored all together because the rest of the names in that pool have name recognition and are handed jobs just based on that (like John Dorsey).

    The bigger issue is the names in that pool aren’t very good which is why the same teams are picking out of it seemingly every year. The fact that Fritz Pollard is complaining that the minorities the Browns interviewed were not on their “list” is a bigger problem. Especially since the guy Dorsey is replacing was also not on their list but they didn’t have an issue with the Browns hiring him over their minority candidates.

  64. Should we now apply this rule too players as well. The NFL & NBA leagues are probably dominated by 80% black players yet we don’t complain. Should we make it mandatory for teams to have more white players.
    Wooten the best person is picked for the job, get over it….

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