Mike Mularkey: Titans Hired Me Before Satisfying Rooney Rule

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Wilson football, NFL - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.04.2022
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The Rooney Rule is an NFL policy established in 2003 designed to increase the hiring of minority coaches in the league. The NFL is currently the defendant in a class action lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination by the league.
In a 2020 interview that has resurfaced as part of a lawsuit against the NFL, former head coach Mike Mularkey alleged that the Titans told him in 2016 that he was hired before satisfying the Rooney Rule by interviewing minority candidates.
The interview, on Steelers Realms podcast, went by without much notice when it originally aired, but it resurfaced when it was added to Brian Flores’ class action lawsuit against the NFL for racial discrimination.

“I allowed myself, at one point, when I was in Tennessee, to get caught up in something that I regret,” Mularkey, who is white, confessed. “I still regret it. The ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule.

“And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in ’16, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to get that job. And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me, that I have the job already.”
Mularkey offered up the information nearly unprompted. He was asked if he had any regrets from his coaching career, but the question was casual, likely expecting Mularkey to talk about a free agent he passed on, or a game plan that didn’t pan out in a big spot.
Ray Horton, who has recently joined Brian Flores’ lawsuit along with Steve Wilks, was interviewed for the Titans head coaching position after Mularkey was allegedly told he already had the job.
The comments are significant because the Rooney Rule, which was recently expanded to require teams to hire a minority or woman on the offensive side of the ball, dictated that teams interview at least two minority candidates before hiring a head coach.
The interview is the most concrete evidence yet that teams interview minority candidates with no intention of hiring them in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule.
Horton alleges that his interview with the Titans was a sham that he had no chance of being successful in. Mularkey’s comments seemingly back up that claim.
The Titans have denied Mularkey's claims.
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