This week’s discussion about the NFL’s hiring practices and minority candidates has led to a startling new process. Along with beefing up the Rooney Rule, the league is now giving Roger Goodell a greater oversight over teams’ handling of these job openings and interviews. That’s a bit scary when you consider the commissioner’s history with judgment calls.
The Dallas Cowboys and their fans know better than most how inconsistent and illogical Goodell can be at times. We lived it with Ezekiel Elliott’s domestic violence accusation and subsequent suspension in 2017.
Without doing a deep dive into that unfortunate affair, here are just some bullet points of what we learned about Roger that year:
- Ignored his own precedents from previous domestic violence cases.
- Allowed Elliott’s high profile as a star player, and the Cowboys’ profile as an organization, to harshen his judgment so he could “send a message.”
- Ignored his own investigator’s findings when they conflicted with his goal to make an example out of Elliott.
- Put preserving his authority as commissioner over fairness and justice.
Let’s not forget that this is hardly the first time Roger Goodell has worn egg on his face. His ugly handling of the Ray Rice incident, from reacting to public outcry to lying about his awareness of the video, would have been a fireable offense in other businesses.
Is this really someone you want policing a sensitive social issue such as equality in hiring?
Let’s imagine for a minute that Goodell had gotten involved in the Cowboys’ recent hiring of Mike McCarthy as head coach. How might that have gone down?
As you might recall, Dallas did interview Marvin Lewis to satisfy the Rooney Rule before they decided on McCarthy. But even that was met with suspicion and criticism; Lewis being just a token interview to clear the path for who the Cowboys wanted all along.
There’s no denying that McCarthy was one of the top head-coaching candidates available. He was the top name on many lists.
This was especially true for a team like the Cowboys, who were trying to upgrade from a solid coach to one with Super Bowl pedigree. They weren’t going the “hot offensive/defensive coordinator” route with someone like Eric Bieniemy. That was Jason Garrett 10 years ago.
McCarthy made perfect sense for Dallas, but this new rule would’ve brought their hiring process under Goodell’s review. Once again, the commissioner could have had the opportunity to use the most biggest brand in sports to make himself look like a tough guy.
The NFL will now require all teams to submit in writing its coaching organizational structure and job description. If there’s a debate when it comes to someone interviewing for another job, Goodell will decide
Everything would have checked out on paper. Dallas’ interview with Marvin Lewis was enough to follow protocol. But now Roger would have been having to judge on the Cowboys’ intent.
Intent is hard enough to argue in the legal world. You really want a guy with a Bachelor’s in Economics trying to figure it out?
This new review process opens the door for all of Roger’s worst instincts as commissioner. He is too easily swayed by public backlash and by his relationships with the owners. He has already proven the capacity to persecute one team’s player while turning a blind eye to another (former Giants kicker Josh Brown).
Simply put, Roger Goodell has neither the competence or credibility for this responsibility. I just hope the Cowboys can stay out of his crosshairs.