Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Parcells flouts Rooney Rule

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

When the Miami Dolphins' new head of football operations Bill Parcells, and his even-newer general manager Jeff Ireland, sacrificed Cam Cameron last Thursday, it opened up the door for the dog and pony show that is the NFL's Rooney Rule to visit South Beach.

First a little background...the Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate when looking for a head coach and is named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee.

And it's serious business if you dare ignore it. In 2003, the NFL fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for failure to interview minority candidates after axing Marty Mornhinweg. The Lions immediately hired Steve Mariucci without interviewing anyone else.

Since the Rooney Rule was established, several NFL franchises have hired minority head coaches, most notably the Rooney himself, who hired Mike Tomlin before the 2007 season. That said, no. NFL team has ever admitted that the Rooney Rule contributed to the hiring of a minority.

The Dolphins learned from the Lions fiasco and brought in Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for the courtesy interview Tuesday, despite already having a wink-wink deal in place with Dallas assistant Tony Sparano, a longtime Parcells favorite. The 'Phins can't announce Sparano as their new coach because the Cowboys are still active in the playoffs.

So Parcells' tact is simple...why not play lip service to the Rooney Rule while waiting.

"I'm just looking forward to sitting down and talking to Bill (Parcells) and Jeff (Ireland) and the owner to get a feel what they're looking for in a head coach," the classy Frazier told the Miami Herald last week after he was contacted.

Problem is, while Frazier was jetting to South Florida, Sparano...I mean the Dolphins were already in the process of hiring David Lee as the team's new quarterbacks coach. And, in case you were wondering, Lee was on Parcells' staff for four years in Dallas, coaching alongside...You guessed it, Sparano.

Do you really think the Fish have any intention of inking a guy like Frazier and forcing a quarterbacks coach down his throat?

The whole process stinks and it's evident Frazier is being used so the Dolphis can avoid a significant fine. Whether that is worth it to Leslie, a good coach whose name has never been included on a head-coaching short list before, can only be answered by the man himself.

Advocates of the Rooney Rule argue any interview for a minority candidate -- sham or not -- can help by getting a name circulated around the league. But that's a specious argument, everyone in the NFL is already well aware of Leslie Frazier and I dare say he is far more known than Sparano.

The Rooney Rule exists for one reason -- public relations.

How else can you explain Parcells circumventing the spirit of one of the NFL's most important rules with such transparency?
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