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Expand search rules to execs, he says

2/20/2004 - Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Dungy thinks minority candidates need more chances -- and not just as coaches.

The Indianapolis coach, one of five black head coaches in the NFL, said Thursday he supported expanding the league's new
interview policy to include front office employees.

"I think the same thing should be applied to other positions," he said at the league's annual combine in Indianapolis. "I don't see a difference between coaches and directors of player personnel or general managers."

Last year, the NFL added a rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate when a head coaching position opened. Detroit president Matt Millen was fined $200,000 for not abiding by the policy when he hired Steve Mariucci, even though Millen insisted he tried to interview minority candidates.

Since then three black head coaches have been hired -- Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati last year and Dennis Green in Arizona and Lovie Smith in Chicago this year.

Dungy believes that indicates the league's action is having the desired effect.

"I think what it's done is slow things down and I think that's
good," Dungy said. "It's making you look at different options,
and I think that's a good thing."

Dungy and the other black coaches had dinner with commissioner Paul Tagliabue s on Wednesday night, where the topic of minority hiring was discussed.

One of the problems remains the period in which coaches can interview.

Two of this year's "hot" candidates were both coordinators
with the New England Patriots -- Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel -- but neither got a head coaching job. Weis is white, Crennel is black.

This year, the NFL allowed assistants on teams that earned a first-round playoff bye to interview during their bye week. They
cannot interview again until after their season ends.

Some believe that's why Weis and Crennel, who were coaching with the Super Bowl champs, were left out this year. But Smith credited the new policy with helping him get the Bears job.

"I interviewed with four different teams and the bye week
helped me get a job," Smith said.

Dungy said he believes the same policy could help change the face of front offices league-wide.

"I think it would be to the benefit, not to force people or
tell them who to hire, but to look at a group of candidates and
then make a decision," Dungy said.