San Francisco Examiner

Minority interviews a joke
February 04, 2003
Special To The Examiner

Since you asked ...

Yes, the NFL's commitment to minority hiring has been atrocious. And, yes, teams that refuse to interview qualified minority candidates for head coach and general manager positions should be held accountable.

But how can a team like the Detroit Lions be expected to meet the mandated criteria when top minority candidates refuse to come in for the interviews?

Clearly, Steve Mariucci is the Lions' top choice to replace Marty Mornhinweg -- and rightfully so. Mariucci has a track record of success with the Niners and he would have been every club's top choice had he been fired five weeks ago.

The problem is that Dennis Green and other qualified coaches are refusing to accept what they consider to be "token" interviews to help the Lions comply with the league requirements before they hire Mariucci.

Not that I blame them.

Former Super Bowl MVP and current Grambling coach Doug Williams recently told me that if he had known Kentucky wanted Rich Brooks for their coaching vacancy all along, he never would have interviewed.

He felt used.

You would, too.

So now the Lions must find a way to interview minority candidates who know full well that the job is Mooch's if he wants it.

So what is Matt Millen to do? Hire Mariucci and then accept whatever sanctions the league hands down for failing to consider enough minorities? Or should he call as many black assistant coaches he can find and lie to them, telling them he hasn't really decided on Mooch, just to get them to come through the door for an interview?

The bottom line is that the league needs to find a better way to give minority candidates a fighting chance in the coaching ranks. Forcing teams to do mandatory interviews serves no one, least of all the top prospects who know that they are sitting at the GM's desk for the same reason the floor plant sits in the corner of the GM's office: to add a little color to the room.

- No, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl championship defense is not the greatest of all time. And it's not even close. Sure, the Bucs have had one of the NFL's most dominant defenses in recent years, but this past season was the first in which they actually led the league in total defense. The debate on history's greatest defense begins and ends with the Pittsburgh Steelers' unit that led the team to four Super Bowl titles in six seasons. Don't even bother to compare.

So what about the best single-season defense in history? The 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 1985 Chicago Bears have been mentioned as the standard for single-season excellence and perhaps the Bucs can be mentioned in that class. No one can argue with the dominant performance they gave on the game's biggest stage, completely overpowering the best offense in the NFL to win the Super Bowl.

Then again, what other defense has ever had the advantage that the Buccaneers had in San Diego? This was the first time in league history that the coach of one team was less than 12 months removed from building the offense of his opponent in the Super Bowl.

Jon Gruden had his team's defense so well prepared to face the Raiders that the Bucs knew what play was coming before Rich Gannon even finished his cadences at the line of scrimmage.

The Bucs' defense is a great one, but the real MVP of their Super Bowl victory was Gruden. It's not that difficult to stop an offense, even an elite one, when you know precisely which play is coming at every snap.

- No, Mike Vanderjagt should not be allowed to return to the Indianapolis Colts.

Vanderjagt told a Canadian television station that he was "not a real big Colts fan right now" because his coach, Tony Dungy, was too laid back and not emotional enough.

He went on to rip Peyton Manning for not "yelling and screaming in peoples' faces" enough.

Two things to remember here:

First, players should never air their embarrassing complaints in a public forum.

Second, players who are involved just five plays per game, none of which ever involve contact, should never open their mouths about anything. Anywhere. Ever.

Vanderjagt is a kicker. And now he is a cancer. So Dungy should take over the kicking duties for the Colts. By kicking Vanderjagt directly out of Indianapolis.

Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.