Sunday, January 10, 2010

Leslie Frazier's Post-Interview Phone Call to His Mom

When the Seattle Seahawks fired coach Jim Mora this week, all signs pointed to USC egomaniac Pete Carroll being hired as his replacement. In fact, ESPN spread rumors that Seattle may have had a five year deal of up to $35 million drawn up before the announcement about Mora had even been made. Carroll had a down year at USC and had been testing the waters of the pros, and this is a case of a team having no second choice for a position.

The problem with this is that the Seahawks may have circumvented the Rooney Rule, which requires all NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for a head coaching position before making a hire. In theory, the affirmative action measure has been effective. Before the rule, only 6% of NFL head coaches were minorities. Now they make up 24%. The Rooney Rule should get some of the credit for the current diversity of the league. As Chuck Klosterman wrote in his essay "Football":
"This is football's interesting contradiction: It feels like a conservative game. It appeals to a conservative mind-set and a reactionary media and it promotes conservative values. But in tangible practicality, football is the most progressive game we have--it constantly innovates, it immediately embraces every new technology, and almost all the important thinking abotu the game is liberal."
And progressives never know when to pull back the reins. Black coaches--but, it should be noted, no other minorities--coach many of the NFL's franchises. The Rooney Rule, once necessary, may now be one of the more insidious forms of tokenism at work in popular culture. For example, the Seahawks clearly had a replacement in mind. Why pretend that Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the man they met with briefly this weekend to satisfy the rule and avoid getting fined $200,000, has any chance of getting the job? Isn't that more demeaning than just saying it was Pete Carroll's job? Doesn't that hurt the cause? Think about the position Leslie Frazier's in now.

To show you how awkward this could be, let's pretend Leslie Frazier's mom doesn't know about the Rooney Rule.

Leslie Frazier
: Hello?
Mrs. Frazier: Baby? You said you would call right after to tell me how things went.
Leslie Frazier: I did. You're right. I'm--I'm sorry, mom. I--I guess I forgot.
Mrs. Frazier: Are you crying?
Leslie Frazier: Huh? No, mom. I'm (deep breath) I'm at a Quizno's--I stopped here after the interview--and I got something in my eye. I'm okay.
Mrs. Frazier: Well how'd everything go?
Leslie Frazier: Pretty well I guess. Exactly what I expected. We just kind of walked through what the job would be like, looked at my resume.
Mrs. Frazier: Did you give them the resume with Phi Beta Kappa on it? That makes a huge difference. If they see that you were in an honors' fraternity--
Leslie Frazier: I don't think that was on it. Look, mom, don't get your hopes up about this. They're interviewing Pete Carroll, and I'm pretty sure he's going to get it. He's won national championships and stuff.
Mrs. Frazier: I don't care what he's won. He's not my special little man. Now what kind of questions did they ask? Did they ask you about your strengths and weaknesses? 'Cuz I told you the best thing you can say for a weakness is that you're a perfectionist.
Leslie Frazier: Uh-huh.
Mrs. Frazier: Because, you see, it's not really a weakness. They would want a person who was a perfectionist.
Leslie Frazier: Mom, it really wasn't that kind of interview. It was, like, they asked me what kind of system I would want to run, whether I would want to bring in my own personnel.
Mrs. Frazier: I hope you said 'yes, sir' and 'no,sir.'
Leslie Frazier: Of course I did--look, I told you. I'm not going to get this job. They're hiring Pete Carroll. The only reason they interviewed me was--
Mrs. Frazier: You're definitely not going to get the job if you're acting all negative like that, baby. You have to believe in yourself. Didn't I get you that book? What was it called...Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?
Leslie Frazier: Yeah, I read it. You're right.
Mrs. Frazier: There you go, baby. Just believe in yourself. Good things will happen.
Leslie Frazier: I'm not even sure I want the job to be honest. You know, it rains a lot in Seattle.And it's far away. You might have trouble visiting.
Mrs. Frazier: How were you dressed? I hope you shined your shoes.