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Saturday, October 25, 2008
Haslett contract decision consistent with rules

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ATLANTA -- A plane change between Seattle and Charlotte provides an opportunity to make sense of the NFL's decision to void Jim Haslett's contract with the Rams.

The ruling does nothing to prevent Haslett and the Rams from reaching agreement after the season if both parties remain interested at that time. The Rams will have to interview a minority candidate to fulfill requirements associated with the Rooney Rule. That's the process every team must follow under these circumstances.

Here is the key point to understand: NFL teams are allowed to promote their next head coach from within -- without regard for minority candidates -- as long as the future coach has an agreement in writing while the current coach remains employed. Once the job comes open -- as it did when the Rams fired Scott Linehan -- it's too late to quickly hire a candidate without opening the process to minorities.

The Rams were able to name Mike Martz their next coach before Dick Vermeil stepped down. The Seahawks were able to name Jim Mora their next head coach before Mike Holmgren departed. The Colts named Jim Caldwell their next coach while Tony Dungy was still in charge (a different situation because interviewing Caldwell, who is black, would fulfill the Rooney Rule anyway).

A question: Let's say the Rams finish strong and Haslett becomes the obvious choice for the job. If you are a minority candidate, do you submit to an interview if you know Haslett is a slam dunk for the job?