Goodell: Rooney Rule not violated by Seahawks, Redskins

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday the spirit of the Rooney Rule on minority job interviews has not been violated by the Redskins or Seahawks.

Washington interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for its job even while Jim Zorn still was head coach, then hired Mike Shanahan shortly after Zorn was fired. Seattle has interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, although it's clear that Southern California coach Pete Carroll is the team's first choice to replace Jim Mora.

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But Goodell, speaking in Cincinnati before the wild-card game, was satisfied that the two teams complied with league regulations. The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and front office jobs.

"They have in both cases," Goodell said. "I can assure you they have complied with the rule with the information that I have. I mean, I've been in contact with them, so they've been in compliance. I can't give all the details, but they're in compliance."

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors minority hiring in the NFL, said last week that the Redskins did their due diligence in interviewing Gray. At the time, Alliance chairman John Wooten said the interview satisfies the Rooney Rule and it didn't matter that the job is not yet vacant.

But the question remains whether Gray and Frazier were true candidates, or were interviewed simply to comply with the Rooney Rule.

"The way it was done with Jerry Gray bothered me because they actually interviewed him before it was ever announced there was an opening for the job," former coach Tony Dungy told The Associated Press on Saturday night. "But I don't know how you can judge the intent."

Dungy, who won the Super Bowl with the Colts in January 2007 and retired last year, believes the Rooney Rule has worked well. But he acknowledges there could be issues with compliance.

"That is not what the Rooney Rule is supposed to be is you make up your mind and then interview a candidate for it anyway just to satisfy the rule," Dungy said.

"If the Jerry Gray situation is the way it has been described as happening, I don't think it was fair. I don't think I would ever interview for a job if my boss was not out of the job. I don't blame Jerry; it's the position he was put in, if it happened that way."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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