"Rooney Rule" Ruminations

What did Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett know, and when did they know it?

Seems likely to me that Jerry Jones had decided by mid-December that he would retain Jason Garrett as the Cowboys' head coach in 2011. It's not inconceivable that Jones privately conveyed that decision to JG, and encouraged him to begin a full evaluation of all players and coaches. If that's the case, that evaluation process would have included wide receivers coach Ray Sherman. 

I am making no accusations here, and I'm generally an eye-roller when it comes to conspiracy theories. So I'll just express this in the form of a hope. I hope the Cowboys did not use Ray Sherman as a token to satisfy the Rooney Rule, knowing that not only was he not a serious candidate for the head coaching job, but that he was also going to lose his position coaching gig. I hope that was not the case. I really, really hope that was not the case.

The point is that the Rooney Rule, as currently constructed, inevitably gives rise to suspicions, or at least questions, such as the above. No rational person of good will, it seems to me, would question the motive or intent of the Rooney Rule. But its practical application has proved ham-handed, frequently condescending and paternalistic, and even counter-productive in advancing opportunities for minority coaching candidates. Good intentions don't always justify ill-conceived mandates.

I am aware of the rebuttal that, if nothing else, the Rooney Rule gives minority candidates "reps" in the interview process and can help a coach build name-awareness around the league. Sure, the argument goes, a minority candidate might go into a particular interview knowing full well he has no chance of landing that job, but can approach it as "professional development" that could pay off down the road.  Maybe. Mike Singletary interviewed multiple times in multiple places before he was hired by the 49ers, and Ron Rivera, the brand new boss of the Panthers, was on his ninth interview before Carolina was swayed.

But can those hirings be credited to the Rooney Rule? I tend to doubt it. The NFL is a progressive business, an intensely competitive meritocracy. Do we really believe that NFL owners and GMs deny "the best man for the job" opportunities based on a candidate's minority status?

Call me naive.  (Many of you will call me way worse than that.)  But I think the Rooney Rule, as currently constructed and implemented, has outlived its usefulness.

[Ed. Note]: When discussing the issue of race and minority hiring, please approach the topic with common sense and some sensitivity. We'll be monitoring the threads as always, so please think a second before you comment and make sure it's appropriate.

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