Candidate secrecy cuts against purpose of Rooney Rule

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A strange dynamic recently has emerged regarding compliance with the Rooney Rule. Teams are complying without specifying publicly how they complied.

It started with the Jaguars. They hired Tom Coughlin to run the show at a time when it wasn’t even publicly known that they were looking to fill the position, since the position didn’t exist. When PFT asked whether the team complied with the Rooney Rule before hiring Coughlin, the response was, essentially, “Yes, but we’re not saying how.”

More recently, the Chiefs hired a new G.M. without disclosing or leaking the names of any minority candidates. The Chiefs are willing to say there were two minority candidates, but they’re not willing to name them. The league office is fine with that approach. The Fritz Pollard Alliance is fine with that approach. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should be.

Apart from the fact that the publicity that comes from getting interviews for major NFL jobs makes the candidate potentially more attractive for other jobs (one of the express purposes of the Rooney Rule) is the question of why a candidate would want it to be a secret? For candidates currently working with other teams, keeping it a secret becomes much harder because a formal request for permission to interview the candidate must be made to the league office. Chances are, then, that the two candidates interviewed for the G.M. job in Kansas City (and the person interviewed for the job Coughlin got in Jacksonville) are currently not working for teams — and possibly are working in the media.

Members of the media who are considered for these jobs would have reasons to keep it to themselves, reasons that would counter the benefit of having their candidacy publicly known. After ESPN analyst Louis Riddick interviewed for the 49ers G.M. job, his comments about the team were scrutinized in a way that called his objectivity into question. More recently, when Riddick’s name emerged in a report from NFL Media as a candidate for the G.M. job in Kansas City, he vehemently denied it — even though PFT subsequently learned that he was indeed a candidate.

Reached by PFT for clarification on whether Riddick was interviewed, an ESPN spokesman said Riddick has no comment, and the spokesman referred PFT to Riddick’s prior tweet in which he claimed he hadn’t heard from the Chiefs. (“No, he wasn’t interviewed” would have been a lot easier to say, if that’s actually the truth.)

The NFL is committed to constantly looking for ways to improve its policies and procedures. Over the past 15 years, the league periodically has tweaked and expanded the Rooney Rule in an effort to ensure that it advances the objectives under which it was formulated. The next tweak is a simple one: Teams must announce publicly all candidates who are interviewed in person for job that falls within the scope of the Rooney Rule.

25 responses to “Candidate secrecy cuts against purpose of Rooney Rule

  1. If the Fritz Pollard alliance is fine with the approach…so am I. Its a bad rule anyway…times have changed. If a guy is good enough to win the job…minority status is not going to be a hurdle to get past anymore.

  2. Are they publicizing the other non minority candidates? If not then whats the outrage about. Didn’t you argue before how lame it was that teams would parade minorities around for fake interviews just to say they are in compliance?

  3. The people interviewed had the choice of making it public or not. These candidates chose not to make it public. Who are you to decide that they’re wrong? If you force the information to be public, maybe that will make some minority candidates more reluctant to interview.

    It’s almost as if you really care more about your own ability to report things than about minorities having opportunities.

  4. Why are these teams only interviewing black candidates? What about Asian, American Indian and Eskimo candidates? In fact, given that blacks make up about 11% of the US population, should there not be a rule that only 11% if the players can be black… know…..out of fairness?

  5. The Rooney rule is pathetic. It is reverse discrimination at its finest. If I own a company I interview and hire who I want. Be the best candidate that walks in my doors and do not think for one minute that how dark you are is going to give you the lead in the competition.I would be ashamed if I was hired just because of my race. END the Rooney rule.

  6. Minority candidates are sought after on their ability. It’s an outdated rule that needs to go away. If Tony Dungy decided to coach again teams would line up to hire him. I wouldn’t want to be paraded in front of the media if I was just going to be a token interview. Get real.

  7. The reason teams are moving away from publicizing it is to keep people like you from discrediting the candidate by writing an article every single time a minority candidate is interviewed that states that it complies with the Rooney Rule. Whether it’s your intention or not you make it seem as though they’re interviewed because of the Rooney Rule, which makes the candidates look bad. By doing this, teams bring back legitimacy to the process, and clearly the Fritz Pollard Alliance agrees with this approach.

  8. Except for public entities, it is not usual practice to reveal the names of candidates for positions. Even in the case of public entities, revealing the names of candidates does not usually happen prior to a hiring decision.
    The NFL and its member clubs are not public entities and have no obligation to reveal this information. The idea that they do seems to arise from a media sector that thinks they are “owed” all sorts of information that they are not. And this is not solely restricted to sports.

  9. Mike Zimmer interviewed with 5 teams before he was hired and pft among others wrote articles speculating what was wrong with him. Maybe that’s why people don’t want their name mentioned in a failed attempt at a job.

  10. There is no reason for this rule to exist. Any preferential treatment based on race is still racism, regardless of who it helps. Owners are businessmen hard-wired to focus on the bottom line and they want to win. I can’t imagine a single one of them letting personal bias get in the way of hiring the coach who they believe gives them the best chance for success.

  11. the rooney is disgustingly rascist. MLK (the man who thought that someone should not be treated a certain way due to the color of his skin) rolls over in his grave every time ‘rooney rule’ is uttered.

  12. The case that secrecy contradicts the purpose of the rule isn’t really made here.

    Of course it could hypothetically undermine it. More likely, to me, is that media secrecy would make it easier for teams to speak to more people coming from a wider variety of situations without breathless scrutiny of every inquiry. It would allow teams to interview more people, even speculative interviews, which gets more people in the pipeline.

    Regarding the “publicity” benefits of interviews being known – are we so sure that teams don’t know who is getting interviews? I would be surprised if word of mouth doesn’t cover that, but maybe it doesn’t.

  13. Every Rooney interview in history:

    GM: Tony, thanks for coming in. I’m a huge fan of what you do with a defense.
    Candidate: It’s Tom. And I’m an OC.
    GM: Fantastic interview, Tim. I think there might be a special teams job open under our new coach.

  14. Once again, there a lot of posters terrified of the Rooney Rule. The mere mention of it freaks them out. Perhaps they should ask themselves why the requirement of a mere interview causes them such consternation.

  15. cardinealsfan20 says:
    Jul 11, 2017 2:48 PM
    Once again, there a lot of posters terrified of the Rooney Rule. The mere mention of it freaks them out. Perhaps they should ask themselves why the requirement of a mere interview causes them such consternation.


    Maybe because they believe that a business owner should be able to hire whomever she wants for whatever reason she wants. In other words, the decision is entirely up to the discretion of the owner and the owner should be under no obligation to waste time and “interview” other candidates under some misguided notion of political correctness

  16. f1restarter says:
    Jul 11, 2017 12:07 PM

    I wonder how many minority coaches who got their jobs because of the Rooney Rule are actually proud of being a Rooney Rule hire.

    I think there’s a misunderstanding of what the Rooney Rule is. The rule requires that at least one minority be interviewed but it does not require that a minority be hired. Owners will hire who they want. Sometimes, the Rooney Rule candidate turns out to be the best candidate (e.g., Mike Tomlin). The spirit of the rule is to give opportunities to people who aren’t part of the traditional group of candidates. I think the rule is outdated and unnecessary now, but let’s not pretend this rule is forcing less qualified candidates to be hired.

  17. The Rooney rule is imperfect and can seem down right silly at times but it has accomplished what it was meant to do. Force teams to look at candidates they wouldn’t otherwise look at. Interviewing said candidates makes them better known around the league increasing the exposure of minority candidates without forcing anyone to hire anyone. There would be a lot fewer black head coaches today if it weren’t for the Rooney Rule.

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