BROWNS’ SEARCH COULD PROMPT ROONEY RULE CHANGES
At a time when the single-candidate ascensions of Mike Singletary, Jim Caldwell, and Raheem Morris to have prompted us to call for a renewed debate as to whether the use of a rule that makes race an issue truly is the best way to make race not an issue when it comes to hiring head coaches, the so-called Rooney Rule actually could be in line for an expansion, not a contraction. Per Adam Schefter of NFL Network, the fact that Browns owner Randy Lerner said that he wanted a new coach with head-coaching experience but then interviewed a single minority candidate with no head-coaching experience could result in an adjustment to the rule. The interview of now-former Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker complied with the letter of the Rooney Rule. But, in hindsight, it comes off as a sham, since Lerner set forth qualifications for the position that Tucker simply didn’t have. But this one is easy to avoid in the future -- owners would simply not say anything publicly about whether they want a coach with prior head-coaching experience. (And, frankly, it’s another reason why owners like Lerner should take a page from coaches like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, who have mastered the art of talking while at the same time communicating nothing of any real consequence or significance.) Besides, why did Tucker agree to sit for the job if he thought he had not shot at it? Wasn’t one of the purposes of the Rooney Rule to provide minority candidates who weren’t getting interview experience and the “buzz” that goes with it a chance to learn the interview ropes and benefit from getting their names in circulation for head-coaching positions? Rather than “adjusting” the rule on an arguable form-over-substance basis at a time when real questions are arising as to whether it leads to fair outcomes when minority coaches can be hired with no other candidates -- white, black, or otherwise -- being interviewed, the league should be engaged in a comprehensive review of whether enough progress has been made to trust owners to invite candidates to interview for head-coaching positions without regard to the color of their skin.