Mike Mularki talks about the Titans and Rooney

The worst evidence of skewed adherence to the NFL Rooney rules went unnoticed for nearly 18 months.

Lost in the abyss of COVID-related football coverage – in the middle of the Steelers Realm podcast in October 2020, former NFL head coach Mike Mularki took a familiar statement about Rooney’s rule and spoke about it from a completely unfamiliar position. He expressed the opinion of the guy who really got the top job in 2016, and the regret that happened because he thought the process was a lie.

This is what Mularki was trying to tell everyone in 2020. That spirit rule Rooney abused. Let him know about it first hand. And that was a top-down complicity issue, starting with owning the Tennessee Titans and extending to general manager John Robinson.

We missed this bomb for some reason. Now, Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL – alleged racial discrimination in employment – has rediscovered this. It’s a terrific turn for the NFL that now has to contend with the former head coach who landed his top job in 2016 and then described it as a “fake hiring process” that considered candidates for coaching coaches from the minority simply in order to put a tick.

The proposal for this kind of distortion of Rooney’s rules is not new. But the former head coach, like Mularki, expresses remorse for being a silent accomplice to this, of course. That should worry the NFL. Not only because Flores is no longer alone in his class action lawsuit (Steve Wilkes and Ray Horton joined as plaintiffs), but also because the league could never have imagined dealing with this discovery by Mularka. At no time in Rooney’s history has a head coach said he got a job without other candidates getting an honest shake. Enter Mularki in 2020 by answering an extremely broad question in a specific and personal way.

Mike Mularki called the coaching search for the Titans in 2016, which ended with him getting a job, a “fake hiring process”. (Photo by Wesley Hitt / Getty Images)

Here’s how the request went:

“Would there be anything in your coaching career that you could have done differently or changed?”

“It’s a good question,” Mularki said. “I’ll tell you guys: I’ve always been proud of what I’m doing right in this business, and I can’t say it’s true about everyone in this business. It’s a very tough business and a lot of guys will tell you this. But I allowed myself at one point, when I was in Tennessee, to get caught up in what I regret. I’m still sorry. But the owner, Amy Adams-Strunk and her family, came and told me I was going to be head coach in 2016 before they went through Rooney’s rule. And so I sat knowing that I was the head coach in the 16th when they went through this fake hiring process – knowing a lot of the coaches they interview, knowing how willing they are to go through these interviews, knowing that everyone that they could do and they didn’t have a chance to get the job. In fact, the CEO, John Robinson, he was with me for an interview. He had no idea why he was interviewing me – that I already had a job. “

The bricklayer continued:

“I am sorry [it]because I am proud primarily of my children to do the right things. I always told that to the players. But I, the head, do not. I have regretted it ever since. That was wrong. I’m sorry I did that. But that was not the case. I had to be interviewed, like everyone else, and get hired because of the interview, not early. This is probably the biggest regret. “

This is not what the coach usually says in the podcast. This is the kind of answer that is offered in a sealed testimony that occurs under oath. It will probably tell a little about how long Mularki carried this with him.

Making such statements is not petty, especially if you are mostly proving yourself as a passive participant.

For the Flores legal camp it is a dream. Maybe it’s permissible in court, and maybe not, but it’s certainly clear that if Mularki was willing to state this once as a podcast guest, he would be willing to do it a second time as a repentant witness in the courtroom . And even if this is not the case, public perception of the moment is inevitable. This is proof of the concept that some NFL staff are already closed before the trial begins. And that Rooney rule has become a tool used for optics and screening.

NFL teams have long been suspected of organizing “fictitious” interviews with minority candidates to meet the rule, essentially noting a field that prevented them from hiring a white head coach. It has never been aired in such a way as to illustrate the theory on each side of this tick – to complete the three-dimensional perspective between minority candidates who suspected they were being used, to white colleagues who might suspect (or even know) the work was theirs. from the beginning.

The bricklayers filled the long-missing part of this picture. This is the fact that led to the fact that on Thursday the Titans actually called him a liar.

“Our search for a head coach in 2016 was a thoughtful and competitive process that fully complied with NFL recommendations and our own organizational values,” the Titans said in a statement. “We conducted detailed personal interviews with four talented individuals, two of whom were different candidates. No decisions were made or reported until all interviews were completed. While we are proud of our commitment to diversity, we are committed to further growth as an organization to promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace and in the community. ”

It should be noted that Mularki made his statement to “Steelers Realm” almost 16 months before the lawsuit of Flores. He fired perhaps the most massive Rooney Rule grenade to date at a time when it may have affected only himself. And he did it in a way that made him part of the problem by answering a question that didn’t relate to how NFL teams manage hiring processes.

It all seems pretty weird. People don’t just fall for the sword for no reason, especially in the NFL and especially when no one knows you were accomplices to something. The bricklayers did just that. With zero tangible benefit to yourself.

This is a statement in itself. And that’s something the NFL has to take seriously.

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