Dolphins avoid Rooney Rule violation in Tannenbaum hire, somehow

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One of the various questions that has emerged in the aftermath of the Dolphins naming Mike Tannenbaum the Executive V.P. of Football Operations relates to whether the team complied with the Rooney Rule in filling the position.

The Dolphins apparently didn’t.  And the NFL says they didn’t have to.

“We have discussed the hiring of Mike Tannenbaum for a senior football position with Dolphins owner Steve Ross. Mr. Ross has confirmed that General Manager Dennis Hickey retains all of his prior authority over the draft and other personnel matters, and that Mr. Hickey will continue to report directly to Mr. Ross on these matters,” the league office said in a statement.  “Any public statement to the contrary is erroneous and does not accurately reflect the reporting structure at the Dolphins.”

So where did the erroneous public statement to the contrary come from?  The official announcement made by the team.

“General Manager Dennis Hickey will report directly to Tannenbaum and will continue to lead the personnel and scouting departments and have control of the 53-man roster,” the team said.

In other words, the Dolphins were wrong when the Dolphins said that Hickey will report to Tannenbaum.  What they meant to say is that the General Manager will report to Tannenbaum only on issues unrelated to his prior authority over the draft and other personnel matters.

Which, given Hickey’s job duties, doesn’t leave many things on which he’ll report to Tannenbaum.

The more accurate explanation may be that the Dolphins didn’t realize that Tannenbaum’s job falls within the Rooney Rule, as expanded in 2009, and that the Dolphins simply moved the line on the organizational chart in order to avoid a hefty fine and the stigma of failing to adhere to the mandates of diversity in a job search.”

It is now appropriate to require any club filling a vacant position for that club’s senior football operations position (whether described as General Manager, EVP-Football Operations, or otherwise) to interview at least one minority candidate as part of the hiring process,” the league announced when making the Rooney Rule applicable beyond coaching jobs.

Officially, then, Tannenbaum is not the senior football operations employee in Miami, even if his title — Executive V.P. of Football Operations — and the press release announcing the hire suggests that he is.

77 responses to “Dolphins avoid Rooney Rule violation in Tannenbaum hire, somehow

  1. The application of the Rooney Rule is a farce anyway. “Interview” seems to mean you go knock on the door of a minority “candidate,” ask him a couple of questions, and say it’s done. It’s lip service in the most perfunctory way, and I am surprised the Fritz Pollard Alliance is putting up with it.

  2. Kind of baffling how the Rooney Rule isnt totally offensive to coaches of color. So not getting an interview due to the merit of your skills and resume but due to the color of your skin is preferred? Not buying that. Conceptually in right place, but realistically not so much.

  3. I’m as liberal as they come but the Rooney Rule is one dumb, misguided, ridiculous rule. Has anyone been hired because of it? Has any owner said, “good thing we had the Rooney Rule or I would have never interviewed __ and hired him”. All it does is cast a negative cloud over the interviewee (i.e. they are only there to satisfy the Rooney Rule) and then no team takes that candidate seriously because they’ve been “tainted” with, “oh, he’s just a Rooney Rule candidate…nothing special”.

    Although the Rule might have had good intentions, it’s backfired royally. For the most part, billionaires put wins first over their own prejudices. Case in point, Donald Sterling didn’t have a team of 5 white guys did he?

  4. The Rooney rule should be revised … No more than 50% of any race should be allowed on any team from owners to coaches to players … that should solve the problem.
    What ever happened to … the best man gets the job.

  5. How did Ross ever become a billionaire because he is really dumb. He has no management skills and he is ruining a once fantastic team. Geez!

  6. Wait what? You need to follow the Rooney Rule to hire executives too? Are you kidding me? This is the most racist rule in all of sports and needs to be abolished, immediately.

    For those of you who always claim “it just means you have to interview someone, not hire them” that is the problem. Why should anyone be considered for any position, in any walk of life, simply based on the color of their skin? Isn’t doing so a clear and blatant act of racism?

    Bottom line: abolish the rule. Owners want to win and if it means a minority coach than so be it. They don’t care.

  7. These “diversity” rules are a joke. As a person with a disability, I’ve been the token interview before. It’s completely obvious when you are in an interview for a job that the hiring manager already knows who’s going to be hired and you are only there to satisfy some diversity requirement. It’s a waste of my time and the interviewer’s time.

    If some team wants to be stupid enough to only consider white male candidates for openings, let them. Their stupidity will come back to haunt them eventually. But stop forcing teams and candidates to attend interviews that have no bearing on who actually gets hired.

  8. Well, least the majority of the league is 70% black. That’s progress, as some of us are old enough to remember black players in the league were VERY rare.

    I too think the Rooney rule is very lacking. Teams simply find ways around it. But in a fair world the rule wouldn’t be necessary. The reality is the world isn’t fair, and prejudices exist within the NFL as they do the rest of US society.

  9. I agree with sdelmonte. If minorities are being interviewed only as a means of satisfying the Rooney rule (and they are), instead of as part of a genuine search for the best person to fill the position, it epitomizes the NFL’s lack of foresight and concern about anything that doesn’t generate mega-income.

    Here’s a suggestion: Require the teams to pay $100,000 per interview to each of these ‘minority’ candidates, money that can be recovered, by the team, from the candidate’s salary if he is hired and forfeited by the team if he is not.

  10. Also, as a white guy, I am offended by the lack of white DB’s, RB’s and do not appreciate the lack of equality with WR’s. Why do white receivers generally get put in the slot as if they’re third rate players? Shouldn’t they get a chance to be a #1 or #2 guy?

    Of course I know the best player will play, regardless of race, but this logic is what the Rooney Rule is all about. It’s a racist, out dated rule that demeans men. OUTLAW IT!

  11. Look for the Dolphins to “restructure” their front office next year to give Tannenbaum on paper the authority he actually has now. Of course, by that point, it will be an internal promotion and not be subject to the Rooney Rule anymore. Problem solved.

  12. Who would listen to the Fritz Pollard Alliance now anyway?

    I mean one of their best candidates for a minority HC coaching hire was just fired from one of the worst teams in the NFL for what incompetence. That candidate is Perry Fewell.

    So, they are the begin all and end all of knowing what is best for a team.

  13. He was already working for the team as a “consultant” and this is considered a promotion. Promotions are not included under Rooney Rules. The whole Rooney Rule is a joke anyways. A few years back it seemed every team would bring in Art Shell for an interview, you know that he had no chance. Disgusted at the state of the Miami franchise but they didn’t break any rules here.

  14. The Rooney Rule….another feather in the Steelers’ belt as an organization. Great rule, great franchise, great fan base…3 coaches since 1969–I want all of you to think about that for a second.

    thank you…YES! THANK YOU!

  15. So the Dolphins made a joke out of a rule that is widely considered a joke already, meh.

  16. Owning a team is a business just like any other. If you already have an employee you want in mind, you should not have to interview some token candidates just to please the PC crowd.

  17. The Dolphins avoided wasting a black man’s time by knowing who they wanted to hire… Racists.

    PS The Rooney rule racistly excludes (insert any other race other than African American here).

  18. Ross is killing my Phins. He has been totally clueless since he brought out the Orange Carpet for Gloria Estefan and JLO. Horrible owner. Please sell the team.

  19. I’m glad to see people acknowledge the fact Rooney Rule conceptually is a good thing. Disappointed that people still think it’s a bad rule. On the surface, it certainly does lend itself to conducting “perfunctory” interviews. However, there’s a reason why it exists in the first place. It’s a burden that White society has placed on Blacks when it comes to corporate jobs, admission to colleges, etc. There’s a reason why all those things exist.
    Perhaps when some of the original old guard owners are gone, there won’t be a need for it.

  20. The Rooney Rule is outdated and is now nothing more than a stumbling block. I’m not saying race isn’t still a national issue, but in the win-now-or-else world of the NFL, the (perceived) best candidate is going to get the job, whoever that may be. If a blind rhinocerous turned out to be an NFL coaching phenom, it would get hired.

  21. The NFL should just get rid of the Rooney Rule. Every team that has already targeted a head coach will circumvent this dumb rule by asking a minority candidate a few stupid questions, then move on to the white guy.

  22. justintuckrule says:Jan 7, 2015 3:31 PM

    I’m as liberal as they come but the Rooney Rule is one dumb, misguided, ridiculous rule. Has anyone been hired because of it? Has any owner said, “good thing we had the Rooney Rule or I would have never interviewed __ and hired him”. All it does is cast a negative cloud over the interviewee (i.e. they are only there to satisfy the Rooney Rule) and then no team takes that candidate seriously because they’ve been “tainted” with, “oh, he’s just a Rooney Rule candidate…nothing special”.

    Although the Rule might have had good intentions, it’s backfired royally. For the most part, billionaires put wins first over their own prejudices. Case in point, Donald Sterling didn’t have a team of 5 white guys did he?
    Donald Sterling? Really? Comparing NFL to NBA is apples to oranges.

  23. @justintuckrule

    You do realize that is the primary disagreement with all AA initiatives, correct? And why are you so liberal when liberals’ favorite thing in the whole world is anti-white discrimination (eg The Rooney Rule)?

  24. Rooney Rule broke a logjam of qualified white-only candidates. It is a compromise between an odorous quota system and a more odorous racist system.

  25. Calling the Rooney Rule racist is ridiculous. It is not racist to acknowledge that racial inequality exists. If the Rooney Rule should be thrown out because it doesn’t live up to your ideal of how it should work, that’s life, but don’t argue against what amounts to a very small but potentially helpful rule.

  26. I read the article twice and I am confused on who report to who?
    I am also confused on who has what titles?

    I just going to assume they all report to Dawn Aponte. lol

  27. Only team ever punished for violating the Rooney Rule: The Detroit Lions. Once again, leading the league in only applied to one team rules.

  28. If I was the Dolphins I would take a stance and go to court over the Rooney Rule. If you own the business you should be able to hire who you want period. It is your business.

  29. gofor2with3pointlead: you should rethink your comment.

    Marvin Lewis, Tony Dungy, or even Mike Tomlin for that matter – do you actually think that they were interviewed or hired because of the Rooney rule?

    No, they were hired because they had talent. However, after the Rooney rule was put in place, people seem to think that they were hired because they are black.

    With this season of hires, how many minority candidates have you heard or seen that have been listed as candidates because they have been considered as having earned a shot? Todd Bowles is the only one that I have heard, however even with him we see news lines such as Bowles interviewed to satisfy the Rooney rule, so this does 2 things – devalues the actual work of any minority candidate by making it seem as though they only got the interview because they were a minority and if they do get a job it wasn’t because they earned it but because they are a minority. That is racism.

    In today’s NFL, the owners don’t care about black or white, they care about green. You could be pink with blue polka-dots and they would hire you if they thought that you could help them make more money.

    The Rooney rule has proven time and time again that it hasn’t really helped get anything than a perception of improvement.

    There is still an increase in minority coaches at lower levels such as position coaches and coordinators. That will lead to more head coaches and then later executives as more of them get to be known by the owners and show their skill set.

    So don’t take that away from them by some stupid rule that takes away their value.

  30. If the Rooney Rule truly does “require National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs,” then we need to accurately define the term “minority.” The most recent US census states that women make up 51% of the population, and men make up 49% of the population. Therefore, any men who are interviewed are in fact minorities being interviewed, and as such, the requirements of the Rooney Rule are satisfied by simply interviewing a person possessing a Y-chromosome…Or does the Rooney Rule simply selectively define the term “minority” to meet pre-determined intentions? Nah…that couldn’t be the case…

  31. I can’t wait til these knuckle heads require the Rooney Rule for players too.

    “Uh… Excuse me Coach but if you have a vacancy at QB you must try out at least one minority QB before naming a starter. And don’t forget at least one draft pick must be a minority as well!”

  32. That’s it, this is rigged.

    In all seriousness, the Rooney Rule is a slap in the face to “minorities.”

  33. There was no open position for which the Rooney rule would have applied. Ross hired Tannenbaum and then restructured the org chart to accommodate his role. If Hickey would have been replaced, an argument could have been made, but he is still the GM. Ross just added another layer of beaurocracy. Nobody said anything at all when Parcells took over a very similar role. He was a mid-season hire then but if the Rooney rule would have been applicable it would have mandated the team wait until the end of the season. (Same reason coaches are listed as interim mid-season–Rooney rule must be met before a full-time hire can be announced) It is in no way a required position. It is an unconventional hire but it doesn’t require a minority candidate.

  34. Eutaw’s Finest says: Jan 7, 2015 4:26 PM

    I can’t wait til these knuckle heads require the Rooney Rule for players too.

    “Uh… Excuse me Coach but if you have a vacancy at QB you must try out at least one minority QB before naming a starter. And don’t forget at least one draft pick must be a minority as well!”

    If that happens, white QB’s will quickly go extinct. The league will have black pocket QB’s that can all run 4.5. But then they will probably change the rules to let defenders hit them again…

  35. When Stephen Ross spent over $1.1 billion purchasing the team maybe that gave him the right to select whoever he wants to run the football operations.
    I wonder if Jerry Jones had to interview a black candidate for GM when he decided as owner that he wanted to perform the role?
    While the intent of the Rooney rule is good, the owners will appoint whoever they want. Time to scrap the rule.

  36. You are unqualified bigjdve, in the reading comprehension category. My post mentioned nothing about the qualifications of any minority or for that matter, majority candidate, past or present. My post was directed at people who seem to think the Rooney Rule is racist, which isn’t even really accurate. The more accurate nomenclature might be discriminatory, which it still is not, but this subject seems to get the gander up of every white guy with an internet connection, some of which have never posted anything on this site pertaining to professional football. That tells me they are easily baited into a knee-jerk post that they didn’t give even a moments consideration. Any denial that the rule has not affected some change or brought at least some degree of due diligence is fantasy. So don’t try to take away some hollow victory that it’s liberal white guilt and not racism that gives this rule it’s importance. The vociferous opposition to it should speak for itself.

  37. Time to give the rule some teeth. To many have circumvented, not only the spirit of the rule but the letter. It’s actually a little sad, that so many grown men have convinced themselves that owners would select, this is a good one, “a blind rhinoceros” if they thought he could win. If that were the case, most likely more than one, count them, one women, would have had a job in upper management by now. This is like a home run derby in slow pitch softball. I’m not sure you could call most of these comments “latent bigotry”.

  38. This Dolphins organization seems to be pretty messed up. Your having your GM report to the Executive VP of Football Operations??? Seems a little backwards to me.

  39. –There are upwards of 1500 active NFL players at any given time.

    –The average salary for a player in 2014 $ was $2.4 million.

    –Around 70% of NFL players are minorities (non-white).

    From these numbers it is clear the NFL provides an opportunity to many minorities to earn millions of dollars. There are probably more million-dollar earning minorities in the NFL than any other industry, relative to its size. Sure, minorities are underrepresented in the head coaching and GM ranks. But top to bottom–from owners to assistant coaches–the NFL has done well in terms of the treatment and compensation of minorities.

  40. str82dvd says:
    Jan 7, 2015 3:55 PM

    You do realize that is the primary disagreement with all AA initiatives, correct? And why are you so liberal when liberals’ favorite thing in the whole world is anti-white discrimination (eg The Rooney Rule)?
    You make a good point but the NFL is vastly different than most corporate jobs. With the coverage the NFL gets, an owner knows who his top candidates are before they walk in the door (Heck….we know who the Dolphins top candidates are before Ross knows about them). However, at a company like Mattel, the owner would have no clue if a black executive off the street has better ideas than the white guy how to make toys unless he interviews him first.

  41. Seriously, please stop complaining about (anti-white) racism while including the phrase “as a white guy”. Seriously… you have no credibility on the issue.

    Is it a problem for you ( Mr. “as a white guy”) that “too many white guys” are coaching NFL teams or leading their front offices? Or too few? I didn’t think so.

    If the Rooney Rule causes some team ownership to stop, and think, and seriously consider who or which minority candidates might be qualified to lead their teams, then it has accomplished its intent. I don’t think, in the big picture, that this is too much to ask.

  42. In addition, the NFL announced they would reinstate the old playoff bowl, a game a week before the Superbowl between the Conference championship game losers.

    The winner will receive the Stephen Ross trophy.

  43. I see there are a lot of comments on this thread already. Many of those that are negative are confusing the Rooney Rule process with Affirmative Action type process.

    Someone please correct me if I have this wrong (but I don’t think I do) but, the main purpose of the Rooney Rule is to have a process by which minority coaches and football managers can network in the upper echelons of the NFL.

    It does not mean that preference need be given to minority candidates, instead, it enables minority candidates to meet owners, GMs and HCs if for no other purpose than getting exposure for themselves.

    In this way, minority candidates get to advertise themselves where before they may not have had any personal connections or contacts in what was essentially a good ole boys club. The Rooney Rule is about remedying that.

  44. The Dolphins did not hire this dude. It was Ross. Miami Dolphins fans consider him a carpetbagger that will not go away like a bad case of Herpes. He is clueless. He likes to give jobs to his NY friends or formerly fired staff from the Jets to manage the Dolphins. These people tell him they want to relocate to SOBE and need a job so Ross creates one for them. No Miami fan wants this crap. NONE. They are done. He does not know Miami fans well apparently. They will show him what an empty stadium looks like.

  45. The Rooney rule may seem stupid to some, it actually is trying to do something good…when a team has to interview a minority candidate the benefit is not for that particular job but for the next time a similar job is available….this gives the owner a chance to sit face to face and pick the brain of the candidate and hopefully form a relationship that will be beneficial in the future or when said owner is ask by another owner about potential hires…. This is the only way for owners to actually get to know black people since the immigrants took all of the ground keeper jobs at their estates…..

  46. Wow the league covering up another Miama blunder? Like a few years ago when Zakk Thomas admitted on tv the Dolphins purchased a 3rd party audio tape of all Brady’s cadences and audibles and as he said “We knew everything he was going to to.” and then shut out the Pats 21-0? that was weird, not like it had any affect on the game or anything.

  47. PFT – Can you please consider this response from Tannenbaum and re-address the fact that the Dolphins obviously circumvented the Rooney Rule and the NFL by looking the other way is allowing horrible precedent:

    [From the Miami Herald: “(On what areas of the football operations he will have a final say in, specifically) – “Again, Dennis and all of the other departments will be reporting to me and, again, I think this is a real opportunity. Look, I sat in the seat of Dennis and knowing what that GM (General Manager) job entails, one of the things that I hope and I know Steve (Ross) hopes, is Dennis will have more time to worry about scouting and all of that entails and running the scouting department. There are a ton of administrative things that come across your desk that I’ll handle, working with Dawn Aponte and then, again, trying to take the big picture, when we see opportunities in analytics or innovation, trying to tie all of those things together. There are a lot of departments that go on in running a football team.”]

  48. umm.. no interviews were conducted. he was already a consultant with the team and given another title. i would understand if they brought other people in for interviews.. but they didnt. this Roomey crap is gettimg out of hand.

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