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Saints can fulfill Rooney Rule with internal interview

On Thursday, former NFL head coach Herm Edwards railed against the Saints for making a "sham" of the Rooney Rule.

The rule states teams must interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a head coach. Edwards believes the Saints' interest in Bill Parcells has soiled their search for Sean Payton's replacement during the coach's one-year suspension.

"This thing is going to become a sham if Bill Parcells takes this job," Edwards said on ESPN, wondering out loud why any minority candidate would interview for a job they won't win.

League spokesman Greg Aiello on Friday told NFL.com the Rooney Rule applies to an interim head coaching search only if a team goes outside its current staff. If the Saints do so, they must interview at least one minority candidate.

"That candidate could be from the current staff," Aiello wrote via email, noting that clubs can't hire coaches off another team's staff at this time of year anyway. Aiello said it's not a "loophole" to interview internally, as some have suggested.

The Saints are wading through uncharted territory, trying to cobble together a sense of continuity with Payton set to exit stage left amid the team's bounty fiasco.

The question hasn't changed: Why interview for this job? If Parcells and the Saints share a mutual interest, the Rooney Rule has been botched this time around. Yes, the Saints must comply with the formal process, but how far are we from what the Rooney Rule intended to begin with?

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