Khan consulted with Accorsi, Polian, and Wolf during 2012 season


During his recent interview with Charlie Rose of PBS, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan talked about his philosophy for building a successful football operation.

One of his answers caught our attention, and prompting us to pose a follow-up question of our own.

“If you look at auto parts business, you’ve got to get the right people,” Khan said.  “I wouldn’t be sitting here if we didn’t have the best group of people in the auto parts business.  I mean absolutely I believe it, and so what was the process I used over there?  Very similar here.  When the season started, things weren’t going our way, I said, ‘Well, we might have to make a change.’  There’s only two outcomes.  You make a change, or you don’t make a change.

“So if you’re gonna make a change, you’ve got to get ready.  You can’t wait until the season is over.  That’s too late.  And you can talk to some people, other you can’t.  So I started off talking to the wise old man of the NFL, who had gone through a turnaround, a number of them.”

The answer caught my attention, because there had been no reports or announcements of Khan working with a consultant.  I asked the Jaguars if the “wise old man of the NFL” to whom Khan was referring could be identified.

There actually were three, all former NFL General Managers:  Ernie Accorsi, Bill Polian, and Ron Wolf.

Consulting can be a fairly lucrative post-retirement proposition for guys no longer employed by a team.  Indeed, Accorsi consulted with the Panthers last year after G.M. Marty Hurney was fired, and Wolf consulted with the Chargers following the postseason house-cleaning in San Diego.  The year before that, Wolf consulted with the Raiders.

For Polian, providing consulting services can be a little trickier.  As a member of the media (he’s employed by ESPN and SiriuxXM NFL Radio), he should avoid financial relationships that could undermine his objectivity.  If he’s getting paid by one of the teams to help that team improve its situation, he could (in theory) be tempted to avoid criticizing the team with which he’s consulting during — and possibly after — the assignment ends.  At a minimum, some would say the relationship should be disclosed to the audience.  (That said, it’s unknown at this point whether any of the three former G.M.’s were compensated by the Jaguars, or whether they decided to simply give away some of the nuggets of wisdom that comes from years of experience in the NFL.)

A more subtle reality of the NFL’s hiring process flows from the manner in which Khan planned his next move.  He explained that, when the season ended, he knew he was going to make a change — and that he knew who he would target.

“[W]e made the change the earliest we could, I immediately get on the phone and get permission to interview the people,” Khan said.  “And the guy, our General Manager David Caldwell, from everything we knew he was the best guy for us.  Great football mind, great experience in judging talent, understands value, is a good guy.  Somebody I can relate to and have good chemistry with.”

Caldwell, by all appearances, is the right guy for the job (except in the eyes of John Morgan and the Tebowmaniacs).  But the way the process unfolded points to the lingering disconnect between the Rooney Rule and the league’s actual minority hiring practices.  (And we make this point fully aware of the fact that Khan is a member of a minority class.)

By targeting a candidate before any candidates currently employed by other teams can be interviewed, the interview process becomes an exercise in confirmation, not elimination.  With the help of Accorsi, Wolf, and Polian, Khan settled on Caldwell.  No other candidate — regardless of race or any other characteristic — was getting the job unless Caldwell showed up at the interview dressed like Princess Leia.

It’s not a knock on Khan or the Jaguars.  It’s an observation that the Rooney Rule kicks in when it’s too late to make a difference.  Owners usually decide who they want before the jobs become vacant.  Thus, the goal should be not to force minority interviews that become in most cases a waste of everyone’s time but to find a way to get minority candidates on the radar screen of owners at a time when they’re making tentative decisions about who they want to hire.

And if NFL owners are going to use former NFL General Managers like Accorsi, Polian, and Wolf as consultants, those are the guys the league office should aggressively be encouraging to present to their temporary clients a diverse selection of options, far beyond their friends or former colleagues who may eventually hire a friend, a former colleague, or a relative.

43 responses to “Khan consulted with Accorsi, Polian, and Wolf during 2012 season

  1. The Rooney Rule will always be subjected to these guys need to win. If you’ll recall, Wolf hired Ray Rhodes, a minority who he was familiar with, without considering anyone else. It didn’t work out after one season, but they will always have “their guy” in mind regardless of color.

  2. What makes someone a “minority” human being? Their skin color? Really, we’re still doing that?

    The Rooney Rule is like a soggy band-aid. Must we always swing at the branches, instead of digging at the root?

  3. The Rooney rule itself is demeaning and racist. You are basically saying all/ most owners and GMs are blind racist, and minorities are unable to get an interview on their own merit so they need a bunch of sympathetic white guys doing them a solid so that they can get their foot in the door.

    The faster they do away with this rule, the better.

  4. “It’s not a knock on Khan or the Jaguars. It’s an observation that the Rooney Rule kicks in when it’s too late to make a difference. Owners usually decide who they want before the jobs become vacant.”

    No black people are or were hired to work in the Jaguars Front Office Management Staff. ijs

  5. So he consulted with Polian, and Polian recommended his son. The same son that destroyed the Colts with horrific drafts when he took over for his daddy. And Khan hired the idiot kid whose only qualification is he was recommended by his dad? What an idiot, no wonder this team continues to be irrelevant.

  6. Hire the best person for the job period, regardless of race. I find that rule feels dated or out if place today. Teams have not shied away from minorities in the past, just so happens the teams preferred candidates this year were caucasian. Why waste everyone’s time this way, it feels more disrespectful IMO.

  7. I feel that Mr. Khan should have also consulted with Rich Kotite, Buddy Ryan, Matt Millen and Jerry Jones to get proper representation of all opinions and skillsets before he came to a decision.

    There is more to “diversity” than just race and sexual orientation.

  8. When Caldwell hired Gus Bradley without even trying to interview Lovie Smith i thought that was strange. Now that only 4 out of 22 coaches listed on the team website are black…im discouraged and disguised. This team was built on Cronyism, not the best available candidate.

  9. They should have to interview a woman too then. And a gay man. And a midget.

  10. This one of your better articles. It actually shows the ineptness of the Rooney Rule and how it has made a mockery of minorty hires. I know a lot of coaches want to earn the right to get an interview based on their body of work not by their color. However, when the time comes to recommend these coaches and GMs for that matter, they get looked over because they do not have a relationship with people like Wolf, Accorsi, and Polian. A famous person once said “I don’t need nobody to give me nothing, open up the door I will get it myself.”

  11. “As a member of the media (he’s employed by ESPN and SiriuxXM NFL Radio), he should avoid financial relationships that could undermine his objectivity.”

    Perhaps you could send this statement to Peter King, who gushes over the Rams every chance he gets, because they paid him with food and beer during the draft and let him in their draft room and because he has the same agent as the coach.

  12. So tired of Liberal agenda’s being the excuse for every time someone doesn’t get their way.

    I am white and been deemed racist by my own sister. I dislike our president so I am racist apparently.

    But, one of my son’s best friends is black, he plays ball with blacks and Mexicans. My daughter just spent a whole after noon playing with 2 Indian girls (from India, not American indians), I told my older son he should take a hispanic girl to the prom. But I am racist. Would I even allow this if I was? Seriously?

    People just need to stop combing every article, new broadcast and every walk of life for some thing to blame on race or political agenda. Sometimes a white person is better than a “Minority”.

  13. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was a minority being interviewed for an NFL head coaching position, with the thought crossing my mind that I am only here so that the owner can put a check in the appropriate box to appease the rules of hiring. Similarly, I would feel lousy (I think) if someone gave me a job simply because they were trying to fill a quote of some kind.

    I would gain a great deal more satisfaction knowing that I competed for my job with the best…and beat them all to win the job.

    If an orchestra is determining who will be playing in their violin section, they will often audition from behind a curtain so that the people selecting are not swayed by the person as they see them, but simply on how well they play. This type of process needs to be more the norm.

    The Rooney Rule is a joke…and it needs to go.

  14. Without knowing the entire interview, that answer could also suggest he knew Caldwell was the one after the interview process as I believe he was brought in for a 2nd interview. I do recall for sure Khan encouraged Caldwell to go interview for the Jets position to be sure he selected the job best for himself, not to mention Khan took his time with other interviews and not rushing anything. Not the way someone locked in beforehand would have done it.

  15. Mike, with all due respect, every time you mention “Rooney Rule,” it sounds like a synonym for “token.”

    I no longer believe in minorities. Every time someone mentions the word minority, I think of that person as being non progressive and living in the past. Or somebody who wants history, perhaps dark medieval history, to repeat itself.

    Mike, you’re a highly intelligent man, please quit posting these stupid shallow articles.

  16. Isn’t Kahn a minority himself? How can anyone criticize his hiring methods, when he clearly went after the most qualified person in his estimation? He judged on ability not color.

  17. I also think the Rooney Rule is pretty stupid, but I can’t stand this good boy system. They need to find a better way to police this cronyism!

  18. If I understand correctly, the Rooney Rule was not to ensure that teams hired black coaches as a quota fulfillment, rather, it was designed to facilitate networking.

    What’s plain to see is how it’s the “who you know” factor that will land you a job off of the coaching carousel. (Most recent example is John Harbaugh hiring his friend Steve Spagnuolo fresh off his epic failure with the Saints.)

    The Rooney Rule creates the opportunity for lesser know black coaches to get a chance to introduce themselves and get to know the various team hierarchies around the league.

  19. It’s a stupid rule anyway. Let the person who has put HIS billion dollars up for a team make the decisions.

    And to hear this site lecturing Polian, Accorsi, and Wolf on journalistic ethics is absolutely hilarious.

  20. Well now it’s clear what the problem is. Khan is living in the past trying to use old fashioned ideas to solve new problems. Maybe Khan should just run his team by a democratic voting process, then perhaps he can fully solidify his team into a state of mediocrity.

  21. The Rooney Rule is so stupid. Who cares what race any of these guys are you try and get the best guy for the job you shouldn’t have to waste your time and a minority prospects time when you both know you’re not going to offer him the job

  22. I think Khan continues trusted the wrong people. I think that if the GM Caldwells plan proves to not provide a consistent winner the team will continue to struggle with revenue issues and ultimately move.

    Then the only people that will be hurt are the citizens of Jacksonville, because if the team moves everyone (Jag fan or not) will feel the impact.

  23. Khan consulted with Accorsi, Polian, and Wolf during 2012 season

    And yet, the ‘stache is still on his face. Consulting with intelligent men is wise Mr. Kahn, not listening to them is not.

  24. Khan’s no dummy. He realized that he doesn’t know everything there it is to know about football, so he asked some of the all time great GMs. Give him time.

    Love that ‘stache

  25. @liongate.
    Couldn’t have said it better myself. .. The Polian name is as joke, dads an arrogant a.. that lived off Peyton and Chris is an idiot I mean super stupid

  26. The way the Jags played it was be “CONNECTION.” Everyone in the FO is someone Caldwell knows or has met before, the same applies to Gus & his staff.. Caldwell took a chance of sending Caldwell up to NY for an interview with the Jets.. For ALL I care, that could’ve backfired on Mr. Khan, but he wanted to make sure this is where Caldwell wanted to be.. WTH is wrong with that?? He brought in a good amount of candidates to fill the GM vacancy, but it happened that Caldwell stuck out the most.. Khan is doing everything in his possible will to get a winning product on the field, however, he now “knows” that it will take time to rebuild a roster from scratch.. The risk is moderate, but I’ll be honest, I wasn’t at all happy with the Mularkey hire last year, however, I’m ecstatic about the Bradley hire, be it his energy, his passion for the game, the whole nine yards..
    For those of u who care about the Polian hire, deal with it.. He’s not the one calling the shots, he won’t be in the spotlight, Caldwell is the top dog calling ALL the shots with the permission of Mr Khan, of course.. Oh & btw, wth makes a team “relevant?” I’m guessing that primarily comes down to wins, right?? Soo in retrospect, a third of the league is irrelevant, I thought so!!

  27. Sure, Polian didn’t take any money for his consultation. But purely by coincidence, Polian’s unemployable son winds up with a (no doubt high-paying) job in the Jaguars’ front office.

  28. (And we make this point fully aware of the fact that Khan is a member of a minority class.)

    Dude, stop. Just stop.

    The angle of Khan consulting with veteran NFL GMs is good enough for a post. Tying it to the Rooney Rule is an unnecessary stretch.

    Not sure if you’re just feeling your way toward a position like you’ve been doing with gay football players and the Hall of Fame selection process, but minority hiring is an area where you should actually get yourself together before spouting nonsense.

    Start with the fact that the NFL is sensitive enough to public perception that they don’t want the lack of minority coaches to be a weakness for the brand.

    Then point out how the system to address this is to make teams interview a minority candidate for every opening comes up.

    Then –and this is the part that will require some skill and intelligence– point out that forcing teams to interview a minority candidate is not a way to actually get minorities in leadership positions. One has little to do with the other, even though there’s an illusion that they do. It’s a red herring, a straw man, fool’s gold all rolled into one.

    The NFL’s long history of cliques, nepotism and back slapping favoritism doesn’t allow for a PR friendly message of “We value minorities in leadership” Coming up with a great-named, seemingly appropriate Rooney Rule is insincere as Chris Berman’s NFL draft expertise.

  29. So, a couple of things: The idea that Polian may be compromising his objectivity is, of course, ridiculous. Media Objectivity and Journalistic Integrity are as antiquated as the rotary phone. That ship sailed a long time ago, unfortunately, and it seems somewhat disingenuous when members of the media still bring it up. Also- as to the NFL finding a way to get minority candidates names into the pipeline, isn’t the interview process doing that to some extent? If somone interviews for a job (even one they are unlikely to get) doesn’t that get their name out there? The next time around that candidates name may come up as someone who is deserving of a real shot. Not the perfect system I admit but one that can work

  30. I think many are missing the point on the Rooney rule. It wasn’t designed to make black people feel better about themselves bc someone got a token interview for a coaching job. It was designed to allow that coach to get is foot in the door. Think about it this way, a minority coach goes into a interview knowing he doesn’t have a chance to get the job, but he still prepares for the interview and really impresses. A year later one of the assistant gm’s sitting in the interview gets a job as a head gm and goes out and hires the guy as his head coach.

  31. Lets get one thing straight, Polian only does what is good for the Polians. Bill’s only chance to get Chrisissy a job, was to target the new guy. Mr. Khan you have been set up. No other team would take Chris. Bad press and some good luck on Khans part, he decided not to take Chris. So Bill put forth plan B. which involves Caldwell. David is listening to Bill. These last weeks are play books of Popo himself.

    These moves, stats, and philosophies are Polian. I can see why Bill does not like Tebow. He will take up too much of the lime light.
    There is room for Tebow. For years, Peyton only had one backup, Sorgi, no less. Putting Tebow on as 3rd string ….what would that hurt? NOTHING, but to make the fans happy….. Fans happy=seats filled.

    Make your own decisions Dave. You are too young to put your families future in the Polians hands.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.