The Houston Texans recently interviewed two African-Americans, Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew, for their General Manager vacancy. Then the Texans tried to hire Nick Caserio for the job. Then the Texans didn’t hire anyone when Caserio couldn’t get out of his contract with the Patriots.
That leads to an obvious question: Were the interviews with Farmer and Mayhew legitimate? Or were they a violation of the spirit of the Rooney Rule, an attempt to check the box by interviewing minorities but not really giving them an opportunity to get the job?
When PFT put that question today to the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s new executive director, Rod Graves, Graves said he had some concerns about how the Texans conducted their G.M. search.
“We are concerned about how the Rooney Rule was used,” Graves said. “They brought those gentlemen in quickly, gave the impression they were looking to make a fast decision, and then they came off of it.”
Despite reports that the Texans do not plan to hire a G.M., Graves said he still hopes Farmer or Mayhew gets a shot.
“I have not heard definitively that they have abandoned their process of replacing their general manager, but if they have, it is a concern,” Graves said. “It is a concern that two outstanding candidates, Martin Mayhew and Ray Farmer, were not part of their alternative plan even if, in fact, they had an initial option of looking at Nick Caserio first. I understand the reasons why Nick may have been appealing, but through my own experience, we’ve always gone into interviews with a Plan B.”
Graves said the Fritz Pollard Alliance would be happy to help the Texans identify candidates for the job, which remains vacant.
“The fact that they interviewed two outstanding candidates and chose not to make a decision after not being able to get their first choice, to me is a concern in the fact that it does circumvent the spirit of the Rooney Rule,” Graves said. “And if there are other reasons why those candidates are not appealing, then we’d like to know how we can help to possibly bring others to the table. I think there are many others out there who are qualified and who deserve an opportunity to be interviewed.”
Graves points to what has become a common refrain about the Rooney Rule: NFL teams have all agreed to abide by its letter, but many teams have circumvented its spirit.