Every man has a breaking point, and it appears Perry Fewell may have reached his. The NY Daily News reports this morning that Fewell may intend to skip his interview in Carolina among others citing that he doesn't want to be a 'token interview'. As it stands there are four teams who requested to interview Fewell, Denver, Carolina, San Francisco and Cleveland. Three of those four team have other minority candidates slated to interview, but Cleveland does not. Fewell has a firm interview with Denver on Sunday, but it's unclear whether he plans to visit other sites.
Regardless of who else is coming in to interview this situation with Fewell highlights the unfortunate aspect of the NFL's 'Rooney Rule' to ensure minorities get equal opportunities for high level positions inside NFL organizations. While Fewell feels used, and rightfully so, at least in Carolina it doesn't appear to be the case at all (from Gantt):
I can promise you from conversations with folks up and down the building, Fewell is a very serious candidate here, and possibly a favorite.
Unfortunately this could mean both the Carolina Panthers miss out on a good prospective coach, and Fewell misses out on a good opportunity solely because he's been bitten, and now shy.
More analysis after the jump...
A greater problem with the Rooney rule is thus: as pointed out by 'OldhamA' and other posters yesterday Ron Rivera has been interviewed by numerous NFL teams too, and at least a percentage of those were tantamount to 'Rooney interviews' to just satisfy the by-law. Should Rivera decide he's tired of being used too and withdraw Carolina sit with other two prospective interviews, and neither could be hired due to the Rooney Rule.
Let me be as clear as I possibly can: Carolina is not a team who sets up 'token interviews'. Gantt cites the 2002 coaching search where 3 of 4 interviewees were minorities. If Carolina truly followed this 'token' methodology we wouldn't see a higher propensity of minority candidates.
The unfortunate sidebar to this entire issues is that it again gives the national media unfair ammunition against the Carolina Panthers. I understand Fewell's ire at being a 'token candidate' in the past, but to unfairly throw the Panthers organization out with the proverbial bathwater is an unfortunate situation. What this leads to is a milieu where outside of those who understand how this organization operates we will be characterized as a cheap, racially prejudiced organization with an owner who looks lecherous.
It's an unfortunate and untenable situation and I only hope Perry Fewell takes a second look at the Carolina Panthers and doesn't lump us in with other bad situations in the past.
Coaching note: It's been said a few times before, but per Gantt the Panthers are looking for "leaders, not celebrities" and believes the mold will continue to be Mike Smith/ Mike Tomlin type guys.