Browns failed to follow Rooney Rule procedure but complied in interviewing minority

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As it turns out, John Wooten isn’t as “livid” as he first thought. The Browns did indeed interview a minority candidate for their General Manager job. The team just failed to communicate with the league the fact that they talked to former Bills G.M. Doug Whaley (pictured) before hiring John Dorsey, a requirement of the Rooney Rule.

In other words, the Browns botched the paperwork. Sound familiar?

“For whatever reason, [Jimmy] Haslam or whoever is running their operation there did not report that they had interviewed a minority candidate before they announced that they had signed John Dorsey,” Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, told PFT on Friday. “That threw the whole thing into question, because everybody was asking, ‘Who did they interview?’ Well, we checked with the league, and the league said it had not received any information on who they interviewed or anyone that they intended to interview. Under league rules, the fact that Doug Whaley and John Dorsey were not in the league, they could in fact talk to those guys, but you still have to report you talked to Doug Whaley, and they didn’t do that.

“I got a phone call last night from somebody who said Jimmy Haslam had called him saying I was very upset. He’s absolutely right. I was upset, because when I checked with the league office they said they had not received any information on who the Browns had interviewed at all.”

Haslam defended the process during a press conference to introduce Dorsey, saying the Browns “absolutely” complied. The Browns owner added he was “disappointed” with Wooten’s comments.

Wooten said he asked Cyrus Mehri to issue a complaint with the league. Mehri, a civil rights lawyer who works with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, was instrumental in getting the NFL to adopt the Rooney Rule in 2003.

“That’s where we are,” said Wooten, a fifth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1959 who played nine seasons in Cleveland. “We’re still waiting for the league to clear this up. We’ve put it on their table. It’s their responsibility. It’s the team’s responsibility to tell the league, and the league gets it to us. We’ll let the league decide what they want to do there [as far as any punishment].”

An NFL spokesman said the league is “satisfied the club met the Rooney Rule.”

56 responses to “Browns failed to follow Rooney Rule procedure but complied in interviewing minority

  1. Hint: Remove The Rooney Rule

    No one cares about your phony and disingenuous racist approach to force teams to use and insult candidates they really don’t want anyway.

  2. “Death Penalty! They complied with the spirit and intent of the rule, but didn’t file some paperwork. Then I got all riled up before I knew the facts and now look foolish. They must be punished!” Signed – the Real Racists

  3. I think the Rooney rule is great. However, if I know I want to hire someone who is a minority, why do I have to interview someone that is Caucasian? Don’t take this the wrong way, I think the rule is great, and allows you to interview candidates that you didn’t know much about, and may come to find they are the right person for the job, or create interest down the road for a position. I know John Dorsey is not a minority. I only ask the question in reverse, because there is no body questioning when the shoe is on the other foot.

  4. Doug Whaley is going to be the token Rooney Rule interview candidate this off season and next. And deservedly so, he mis-handled the Bills and set them back years.

  5. Jimmy and Dee Haslam are really good people. Yesterday morning, they had a black coach, a black GM, and a black QB. If people want to call them out for not following some stupid rule, maybe in the future they’ll just give token interviews and then hire a bunch of white guys. Back off you stupid idiots.

  6. The most laughable “rule” I’ve ever heard of. Honestly, you’re qualified or you’re not. Whaley certainly wasn’t.

  7. My question is – Someday there WILL be a minority owner. Will that minority owner still have to interview minorities to comply with the Rooney Rule?

  8. The Rooney Rule is a farce and no intellectually honest person would say otherwise. People are gonna hire who they want, and in today’s society there is plenty of incentive already for minority hiring… heck it’s better to favor minority hires in this culture. It’s a dated rule that does not have implication in today’s NFL.

  9. I’m hoping we’re past the point of needing this rule, or at least close to it. Eventually you get enough progress that the rule itself is a detriment to the process and it’s original purpose isnt needed anymore

    But i can be an idealist sometimes…

  10. I don’t hate the Vikings, I just hate their fans… says:
    December 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    My question is – Someday there WILL be a minority owner. Will that minority owner still have to interview minorities to comply with the Rooney Rule?

    Ask the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have an owner who’s a minority and pretty sure they still have to follow the rule.

  11. Whether or not the Rooney Rule is a good thing, the fact is Haslam seems to have a problem finding people who know how to run the business. Every business, industry, league, club or enterprise has its rules, policies and procedures. Haslam volunteered for this, so he should just hire knowledgeable folks and stop wasting time and money on compliance issues.

    Go back to wasting time and money on the core: figuring out how not to field a winning team.

  12. Punishment?
    Are you kidding me?
    This is out of control.
    Why would you want to be interviewed just so you could check some box? It’s wildly insulting and quite embarrassing that these candidates are paraded around in front of the world when we all know it’s just to check that box.
    Teams are going to hire the best candidate. Black or white.
    The Rooney rule was good for it’s time but it’s outdated and needs to go away.

  13. They can hire whoever they freaking want. Who gives a damn . honestly. Nothing is fair in the real world and why should it be here?

  14. I thought you didn’t have to interview a minority if the outgoing guy was a minority? Or am I imagining thing? Either way, who really cares.

  15. If he interviewed a minority candidate and didnt say so, isnt that better than stating it outright? Isnt the purpose of the Rule to hold all in equality? Which is what Haslam is doing by interviewing him and not even thinking of saying “hey this guy is a minority! Everyone look!” I know everyone loves to pile on the Browns but this is grasping at straws.

  16. Here’s how that call went….”Hello Mr. Whaley, would like the Browns GM job?”… ring tone……number blocked.

  17. Could they have hired Whaley without an interview of a white guy?

    Seems pretty raciest, or is it ONLY racism if you are of color? Which is in itself racism. But we cant have things like facts get in the way.

  18. My question is – Someday there WILL be a minority owner. Will that minority owner still have to interview minorities to comply with the Rooney Rule?


    There already are minority owners – Shahid Khan and Kim Pegula. My question is: does a team REALLY have to comply with the Rooney rule for the GM position when the position was just vacated by a minority? When their head coach is a minority? Clearly the Browns have not been factoring in race when selecting their best candidate. I understand the intent of this rule and I think it made some needed interviewing headway when implemented. However, I think it’s need has passed. Finally, when white people become a minority in 2044, will a white candidate need to be interviewed beginning that year?

  19. redlikethepig says:
    December 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm
    There are no women or Asian head coaches. This is clearly bigotry.

    35 1 Rate This



  20. NBA needs a ROONEY RULE TOO. In reverse. More roster spots for those that care about dumb league.

  21. Currently, the NFL has MANY more things they should be concerned with, than an old archaic rule!!!

  22. So, does this mean the team with a Black head coach is being accused of Racism? Anyone up for some mental gymnastics?

  23. Coming next: Let’s have an “American Idol”-type circus for every coach and GM hire… put it on television and have the public call in and vote.

    If you own a billion-dollar company, you should be able to hire whoever the hell you want.

  24. Wooten has a history of complaining. He complained about Washington in 2015. Sounds like the teams don’t mind interviewing minorities but mind Wooten supervising them.

    The Washington Redskins did not follow the protocol established by the Rooney Rule before they interviewed a minority candidate, according to a complaint sent to the NFL by the group in charge of monitoring the league’s minority hires.

    The Redskins met with New York Jets executive Rod Graves on Monday, but did not alert the league to the interview, according to Fritz Pollard Alliance director John Wooten. Washington has agreed to a deal with Scot McCloughan to become its new general manager.

    The NFL said the Redskins did not violate the rule because they had obtained permission from the Jets before speaking with Graves. Wooten said teams must inform the league of their intentions and said that he expects the league to remind teams of need to follow this rule.

    “We did not have that information based on the fact that the Washington club did not carry through with the procedure,” Wooten said. “We have no way of knowing if you are interviewing a minority if you don’t inform the league office. That’s where the rub comes in.

    “They put us all in a strange position because that’s the league rules. It’s not the John Wooten rule. In order to avoid sham interviews, you’ve got to monitor that and the only way to monitor it is for you to tell us who you interview and then we follow up the interview and we can tell in five minutes if it was a sham interview or not.”

    The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 for coaching vacancies and extended to senior football operation positions in 2009. Graves, who is African American,

  25. In theory I’d think Haslam contemplating NOT firing Sasha Brown should meet the Rooney Rule requirements – surely there was a better chance of that happening than Whaley getting the job.

    I remember when Doug Whaley was an NFL GM, now he’s a black GM candidate. I imagine he might find that demeaning. How is reducing these men to the color of their skin a step forward?

    “You want Dorsey? Ok, fair enough. You’re firing Brown in part because Dorsey is available? Ok, that’s fine – and perfectly natural, really – but can you do us a solid? PLEASE don’t be honest about that. I mean, what would people think?!?!?”

    All things will be equal only after individuals who know they’ve no chance refuse to interview for the position.

  26. The ONLY people that care are the ones that make a living by spreading racial discourse. Cause the problem and then show up with the “solution” – if only the NFL gives them more money of course.

  27. I realize as a white dude, I’m automatically considered racist, but here is what I find annoying with regard to “race issues” in this country. This situation for example. The black community, or in this case the FPA, without any facts, decided that the Browns didn’t comply. Whenever a situation of race relations happens, the group that cries the loudest about pre judging and profiling, pre judges and profiles white people. Because Hadley is white, it was simply assumed that he didn’t comply with the Rooney rule “because he’s racist”. It’s stupid. The hypocrisy of profiling white people as all racist while bitching about being profiled is stupid. Enough already. If you’d give people the benefit of the doubt once in a while you might see things differently

  28. Ironically, Wooten was drafted by Paul Brown and played in the last championship team. That is, before it became Modell’s rannygazoo and returned as the laughing stock of the NFL.

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