Well that was fast. About as fast as cornerback Joe Haden flipped from the Cleveland Browns to the Pittsburgh Steelers following his release back in August, the Browns in the same day fired Sashi Brown and replaced him with John Dorsey. If you’re wondering how they could have accomplished the task so quickly, however, you are not the only one.
There is this little thing called the Rooney Rule, and regardless of your feelings about it, it is an obligation that must be fulfilled for all front office and head coaching vacancies in the NFL. Failure to adhere to the rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a vacant position, would result in discipline.
Among those wondering how the Browns could have had such a short turnaround while still fulfilling all of their obligations is the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group named after the first African-American head coach in NFL history, as well as one of the first African-American professional football players.
Executive director John Wooten yesterday told USA Today that while he believes Dorsey is a “very top quality” general manager, he is “livid that the Browns would totally ignore the work all of us make to make the Rooney Rule meaningful”.
The Alliance annually puts together a list of prospective candidates for managerial and head coaching positions culled from a pool of minority coaching and front office personnel members. It does not appear that Cleveland interviewed any of the candidates on the list, though the Browns through a spokesman claim that they did comply with the Rooney Rule.
With the organization so far unwilling to release the names of those purportedly interviewed for the position, it is impossible to know whether or not that is the case. It is possible that the league could choose to investigate the matter, and teams have been penalized for not following the Rooney Rule in the past, though many believe that some manage to skate by.
Whether or not they complied with the rule as it was written, it would be easy to argue that they did not do so in the spirit of the rule, but more simply looked to check the box rather than giving serious consideration to any minority candidate.
Be that as it may, the Browns are now set with their new general manager, Dorsey, most well-known for his time with the Chiefs, who has reportedly been given control over personnel, and who has, let’s say, let of a ‘Moneyball’ approach to roster-building.
He will inherit a Browns team that does have some talent, but also major deficiencies, yet one replete with resources in both cap space and draft picks—and likely for the second year in a row the top pick in the draft.