The League

Leonard Shapiro
Columnist

Leonard Shapiro

Washington Post sports reporter, editor and columnist who has served on the NFL HOF Selection Committee.

Synder cop-out?

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Daniel Snyder's welcome decision to finally pull the plug on the Vinny Cerrato era and bring in Bruce Allen would appear to be a step in the right direction for an organization that's been heading backwards for far too long.

Knowing how Snyder operates, I'd have to believe that Allen probably was the only candidate the impetuous owner ever seriously considered. And his back-to-the-future-is-now choice with the son of George Allen, the Redskins' late Hall of Fame coach, also makes some sense on several levels, particularly if Allen can convince his old pal Jon Gruden to join him as head coach.

Still, I also wonder how seriously Snyder followed the NFL's Rooney Rule mandating that ownership interviews at least one minority candidate for every vacant head coaching and football-related front office executive position.

John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance and one of many driving forces, including Rooney himself, in getting that rules on the books, told The Post that the Redskins did comply by interviewing a minority candidate currently employed by the team. Commissioner Roger Goodell also insisted the Redskins followed the rule.

Perhaps they abided by the letter of the law with a mandatory minority interview, but if Allen was the man Snyder targeted from Day One, were they really guided by the spirit of the Rooney Rule? Sadly, far too often team owners pick their man, add a token interview of a minority candidate to comply and never deviate from their first choice.

The good news is that more and more minority candidates are finally and consistently getting a chance to introduce themselves to owners who, in the past, hardly even knew they existed, let alone considered them for big-time coaching and GM jobs. The fact that the league shows far more diversity in those positions than ever before is a credit to some of the game's more enlightened owners, as well as the Rooney Rule. Whether Snyder is in that category himself, only he knows for sure.

By Leonard Shapiro  |  December 18, 2009; 10:58 AM ET  | Category:  Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It may be that Snyder knew he wanted Allen from day one (or from the day Shanahan told Snyder that he was the guy to be GM while he was the coach) but of all Snyder's shortcomings, he seems to me to color-blind in his hiring and relationships. Was Bobby Mitchell treated poorly? Sure, but so was Charlie Casserly. In looking at the use and abuse of the Rooney rule, I look focus is best left elsewhere in the league.

Posted by: RedBee | December 18, 2009 8:53 AM

This article is ridiculous, just like the "Rooney Rule" itself. Owners should not have to fill a quota for minority employees; they should be free to hire anybody they feel is best-suited for the job. There are too many people like you who are all too ready to pull the race card in situations like this.

Posted by: adamhankins | December 18, 2009 10:42 AM

And who's to question Dan? I'm sure if the minority coach that was up for the job spoke up against Dan, he'd be shown the street. Just like he is still Keeping Vinny around. The rumor mill has it because of all the poor/bad decisions were made by Dan.

Posted by: larry40 | December 18, 2009 11:56 AM


Its hard enough to get WASP to hire "minorities" for front office jobs. Getting a jew like Snyder to hire one, is next to impossible.


Posted by: demtse | December 18, 2009 12:01 PM

Mr. Shapiro writes, "Knowing how Snyder operates..." Would love for you to provide proof that you "know" how the man operates. I'm guessing the fact that you didn't is evidence that you can't.

Posted by: BlueIguana | December 18, 2009 12:44 PM

The comment about WASP hiring minorities is absolutely correct, no matter what industry it is. However, I've not seen a prejudiced side of Snyder. He has minorities on his staff and has hired a Black coach in the past. The Rooney Rule is not the end all, just something to help make things a little more fair.

Posted by: bestowens | December 18, 2009 12:54 PM

What no one is commenting on is that if Mr. Allen and a "minority" were interviewed, that means that the Cerrato dismissal was in the works for a while. Seems like the reporters and local radio commentators were in the dark while making their complaints that "Vinny should be fired", as were all the callers to the shows and posters to the various blogs and discussions. Unless, though it's unlikely, the Allen discussions as well as those with others were all done in one day.

dungarees@gmail.com

Posted by: Dungarees | December 18, 2009 12:58 PM

Dungarees-
There's no question that Snyder probably set this up days, or maybe weeks ago. It was published once all his ducks were in a row. "Snyder may have been born at night, but not last night".

Posted by: bestowens | December 18, 2009 1:46 PM

DEMTSE: "Getting a jew like to hire one is next to impossible"
Are you sure there aren't any other ignorant bigotted comments you'd like to make attacking any other religions, races, etc? Seems especially ironic and pathetic since your comments imply you're likely part of a group which is itself often forced to face ignorant bigotry. But please, further demonstrate your need to spew vitriolic hatred

Posted by: mike53423 | December 18, 2009 2:08 PM

All of the people responsible for "enforcing" the Rooney Rule are saying that Snyder complied with it. The "spirit of the law" counts for exactly nothing. Snyder either complied or he didn't. I don't know what Snyder did behind the scenes, and neither does Leonard Shapiro.

Posted by: acoberst1 | December 18, 2009 3:18 PM

The Rooney Rule is a joke to start with. Read accounts of Singletary, et al who talk about how they have been brought in by teams to "interview" solely to "comply" with the rule, but it's obvious (to them) from the get-go that they have no chance at the job. There are no requirements on what the "interview" has to consist of, and there's never going to be a way to prove that any given owner had any kind of racial bias come into play when they decided to hire the white guy at the "end" of the "process".

There must be a better way to promote the hiring of minority candidates than a rule which, essentially, only guarantees one a place in the lineup before the owner picks out the white guy they had in mind all along....

Posted by: pcpatterson | December 18, 2009 6:15 PM

The rule is a joke... For many reasons.. One it is not fair for the minority being interviewed. And two because an employeer should be able to hire whoever they wish. If a canidate is qualified regardless of skin color he should be hired.. Period...

Posted by: tom_gillespie74 | December 18, 2009 6:38 PM

DEMTSE, you are a total racist. I don't usually try to enlighten bigots, but you are a very small mind and I'm sure my comments will just bounce off.

Posted by: bentoenail | December 18, 2009 6:41 PM

The Rooney rule is a good idea that needs tweaking. I think in an instance like this, when a team has a person they've targeted as their #1 choice, there shouldn't be a need to interview anyone else. But, if that person turns down the job, or if the team doesn't have a specific candidate in mind, then the league should institute the Rooney rule to ensure minority candidates get a foot in the door. Making a team interview someone else, when they've already made their decision is demeaning to all parties involved.

Posted by: LLChazz | December 18, 2009 7:03 PM

In a mid-season change like this, it makes little sense to have to conduct a lengthy interviewing process to satisfy a quota based rule when the team needs front office personnel to keep the show running, or not. AFTER the season, when teams have more time, it makes more sense to enforce the rule which is a good idea at heart; it does get good qualified men of color in front of good ol' boys who may not have considered them before and it gets them exposure.

Posted by: gamiller1 | December 18, 2009 7:25 PM

Any owner with a lick of sense will hire the best candidate he can find, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or anything else. If the best candidate is black, red, green or blue, a smart owner will hire him, or continue to lose.

Posted by: pjohn2 | December 18, 2009 7:32 PM

Word is that the Skins interviewed TWO minority candidates who were both approved by the FPA!! This also was reported by Wooten to have taken place 10 days prior to the hiring of Allen!!!
Shapiro should really take his witch hunt elsewhere!!!! Jerk!!

Posted by: dkidwell61 | December 18, 2009 8:04 PM

Hire the best man for the job. Who cares what color their skin is.

Posted by: hessone | December 18, 2009 8:13 PM

Adam Hankins: The Rooney Rule is not a "quota" to hire minority employees as you infer. This is only a rule to ensure that owners are interviewing minority candidates for the FO and coaching positions. There was a time in the not too distant past when the owners continued to recycle the same old white guys and minority candidates never even had a shot at an interview. This is especially relevant in Sherm Lewis' case. A highly regarded offensive coordinator in his heyday, he never even had a sniff at an interview for a head coaching position. There is a reason why the NFL decided it needed to have a "Rooney Rule" and it is because there is a problem.

You folks out here who want to throw the "quota" term around are seriously misguided. The owner is not prohibited from hiring who he wants to hire as long as he includes a minority candidate in the interview process. Interviewing someone and hiring someone are two different things.

Posted by: gbussey | December 18, 2009 8:45 PM

I am way-so-way not a racist, but no one tells me who to hire. This is akin to a law many years ago telling us who we had to rent property to. If I own the business or the property, I will choose who I hire or rent to. Ya got that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | December 18, 2009 8:56 PM

The joke is the rule itself. What a stupid, obscene, racist policy!! I mean really - a team has to interview someone based on nothing more than their skin color. It should go to the most qualified applicant and the interviews should be granted to the most qualified applicants - whether they're black, white, green, or blue. This is a sad joke.

Posted by: egrib | December 18, 2009 9:32 PM

You want to know how Snyder operates? You're a fan and you need someone to spell it out for you? You choose not to see.

But, here's all you need to know.

When Gibbs dumped Snyder, Snyder went looking for a world class head coach to lead his playoff caliber team. And who did he pick .. Zorn, some white dude who never coached even a midget squad. Heck, he was never even considered for offensive coordinated. But Snyder picked him. Hello Cinderella.

And you wonder why there's a Rooney rule.

Posted by: tslats | December 18, 2009 10:30 PM

This may be a little off-topic, but please bear with me. In this politically-correct world, we seem to elevate the discrimated population to head-of-the-line status when ever possible. Whether it be affirmative action or any other PC-related field, we are now and have been for the last few decades gone way overboard. Take the work force in general, we seems to be hell-bent on hiring and promoting lesser minority candidates simply to be PC.

Now to Snyder: it seems he went the other way, i.e., he hired as a GM AND a head coach who were both unqualified and who happen to be white. I just don't know that being anti-PC was a part of his decision, but in any case, it was collectively dumb.

But on a bigger issue, has anyone noticed that the portion of minorities in sports is WAAAY past their number in the general population, e.g., how many minorities are starters at your college or pro teams? I'm not sure what that says about white folks. Maybe they just aren't as good as the minorities or maybe they are not that interested in playing big-time sports. I just don't know.

Finally, I think it's a bad rap on Snyder to say he is a racist just because he's an arrogant reclusive mis-manager. I will say, however, that minorities in general wrestle for their head-of-the-line status as to who is the most worthy for past discriminations. The Jewish-Black fight is no different from the Hispanic-Black, Black-White, Female-male, etc., etc. I don't propose solutions, I'm just stating realities at the moment.

The Rooney rule is a good one, because before that minorities were definitely being discriminated against, just like they were for starting quarterbacks and so on. I just wish we would knock off blaming decisions on race one way or the other, and just decide on who's the best. In this PC world, that'd be different, wouldn't it?

Posted by: sdansker2002 | December 20, 2009 7:20 AM

Did Obama need the Rooney Rule?

Posted by: HughJassPhD | December 20, 2009 5:13 PM

the article was stupid as were all the comments--- time to puke

Posted by: bestmick1 | December 21, 2009 9:18 AM

There is no need for a Rooney Rule yeah? Team can just police themselves, right? How is that working in College Football?

Posted by: vmrg1974 | December 23, 2009 3:58 PM

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