Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Mike Mularkey revealed Titans did sham Rooney Rule interviews after hiring him as coach

Attorneys general from six states say the NFL could be investigated for workplace harassments, and Mike Florio unpacks what it all means.

Former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey admitted that when he was hired in 2016, the team delayed an official announcement of his hiring solely so they could conduct interviews with minority coaches to satisfy the Rooney Rule.

In a 2020 podcast interview that got little attention at the time but has now come up in Ray Horton’s lawsuit, Mularkey confessed that he has always regretted agreeing to go along with the Titans’ sham.

“I allowed myself, at one point, when I was in Tennessee, to get caught up in something that I regret,” Mularkey said on the Steelers Realm Podcast. “I still regret it. The ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule. And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in ’16, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to go that job. And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me, that I have a job already. I regret it. . . . and I’ve regretted that since then. It was the wrong thing to do and I’m sorry I did that, but it was not the way to do that. Should have been interviewed like everybody else and got hired because of the interview, not early on. So that’s probably my biggest regret. . . . It’s not hard to do the right thing. It’s really not. But you can get caught up in this business.”

Horton, who is Black, was interviewed after Mularkey had already been told he was getting the job, and Horton has now joined the lawsuit filed by Brian Flores accusing the NFL and its teams of racial discrimination in hiring.

The audio of Mularkey describing what went down in Tennessee is incredibly damning to the Titans and to the NFL.