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Johnnie Cochran discusses early installation of NFL Rooney Rule with Nestor on Radio Row


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Johnnie Cochran San Diego Super Bowl Radio Row 2003

At the 2003 Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego legendary attorney Johnnie Cochran joined Nestor on Radio Row to discuss the first year of the NFL Rooney Rule and where the league was headed in hiring minorities in positions of leadership.


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Johnnie Cochran, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:00

Welcome back Budweiser sports forum live on a Wednesday we’re in San Diego it’s all brought to you by our friends at Toyota Convention Center beautiful outside cruddy inside I wish our outside next Superbowl we’re going to do this from the veranda here in the Embarcadero. But fortunately for us, lots of guests lots of press releases Winslow moon to join Cochran and Cyrus Mehri at press briefing in San Diego. We’re now joined by legendary attorney and if I ever get into trouble for anything that I do here with the FCC or otherwise, I will be hiring Johnnie Cochran Jr. Cyrus Mehri partner also here to discuss the state of Minaya minority hiring in the NFL. Let me first start by saying that My dear friend, Marvin Lewis, broke through the barrier last week got the job in Cincinnati. I hate him for it because he’s in our division. He’s probably going to want to beaten us a few times before it’s all over with. But we all know that there are some issues here. And I am Latino myself and I, you know, I’ve seen a little bit with the issues in the media or whatever. I’m Venezuelan heritage. So you know, so my whole little, little close, little close to home. And I want to talk to you fellas about a Johnny welcome, Cyrus Welcome. How are you gentlemen?


Johnnie Cochran  01:03

It’s great to meet you. And we salute and applaud Marvin Lewis, I think you’ll do a great job there. I mean, I wish he could have gone to a team with a little better record, but I think he finally got a serious interview and got hired, and I think he’s gonna turn that franchise around. Well, I

Nestor Aparicio  01:16

think the one problem that we’re seeing right now is we’ve had some coaches who have a little pigmentation in their skin who’ve been successful. They’ve only been a couple of them. And you know, if it smells like, you know, it is in Danny on, you know, unbelievable track record, Minnesota have problems. They’re still not hired. Marvin was the last to get in the door. There’s some other qualified candidates that still haven’t gotten in the door. But Tony Dungy got a job right away. That’s great. But you know, I hate to to focus on it take any moment of my show to focus on the color of one’s skin. But college football they like to three guys that got jobs willing and takes over Notre Dame turns the program around right away. It’s all going to open doors just like 20 years ago, 17 years ago, Doug Williams opened some doors right here in San Diego with the Super Bowl.

Johnnie Cochran  02:04

Yeah, and I happen to be at that game and it was a great thing for the quarterback and then for so long the NFL had these skill positions where they didn’t think people of color could really performing them, you know, then you middle linebacker quarterback center.

Nestor Aparicio  02:15


Well, Harris is our you know, as my guy and ball, and Shaq had to deal with all that stuff coming

Johnnie Cochran  02:21

in the Rams he played for the Rams? Sure him. Yeah, he’s amazing. But we think that there’s been some progress, not nearly enough. But we I think we calling attention to it. I think the NFL has been fairly responsive. There’s a new process than did Mr. Rooney’s committee came up with if they follow that process, I think you see a Marvin Lewis hired. But in Jacksonville, they didn’t follow the process. In Dallas, when they hired Parcells. They didn’t really follow the process. And we’re hoping that San Francisco will follow the process. That’s the future of the league. We think they follow the process. Sorry.


Yeah, the key is that we’d like to see that each owner strongly has agreed or strongly agreed to interview at least one minority candidate. But the key is how that gets carried out. We saw in Jacksonville is really that dichotomy between the good old boy system and the fair competition principles we’ve been advocating, because just this past week, you can compare what happened with Cincinnati, they interviewed five candidates, they interviewed two minority candidates. Marvin Lewis emerged as a front runner, they brought in Mike Mularkey to give him another chance to interview and Mark Marvin Lewis prevailed down in Jacksonville, the Wayne Weaver went from looking for an offensive coach with a head coaching experience to saying I’m gonna look at a defensive coordinator. He flew down to the Senior Bowl where all the coaches were but only interviewed one Jack Del Rio he never interviewed Ted controlling never you’d love he Smith. He didn’t have a level playing field. How do they how do the fans of Jacksonville, all the players in Jacksonville know the best man was chosen? When they when the owner went in with blinders on

Nestor Aparicio  03:41

by like, they call me nasty? It’s not because I gave him a rough time. It’s because I asked the tough questions in it. And, you know, if they if they want to hire someone, what’s the difference between giving lip service if I’m weighing Weaver? Yeah, I’ll interview a black guy, I’ll bring him down. We know we’re not gonna hire. I think New England did that with Marvin Lewis. Matter of fact, I think buffalo did that with Marvin Lewis. And to me that’s, that’s as embarrassing as it is not hiring someone, if you’ve clearly you’re wasting someone’s time by interviewing them, just to say we interviewed a guy of color. So we had a level playing field, even if it’s not, if it’s if they want to hire white guy, they’re going to no matter how much you guys kick and scream, or have a press conference, John.


Johnnie Cochran  04:19

And I think that, you know, I think that there is some merit to what you’re saying. But we we don’t happen to believe that these people are these owners are sham artists. I think there’s a lot of concern, these interviews will be just plain Sham, Mike Brown, they didn’t have any blacks in that organization at all. But they got they went through this process. He got an interview, he competed. And I got to believe that then given the history of Cincinnati, and that franchise, that he was the best guy and he emerged and that’s different than all the other times and you’re right, a guy could go through a sham and I would hope that we won’t have that if they if that happens. And we see that you know, there’s always there’s always a possibility litigation is nasty. That is a possibility. And I don’t think they want that you know, and I think it is a possibility clear

Nestor Aparicio  05:00

We in Baltimore know about the NFL in litigation because we love football team for 13 years. And, you know, we don’t want to go through that either. Kellen Winslow is one of the guys that is in line with you with this. And I remember when his his boy was gonna go to college, he made no bones about it, his boy, he wanted his boy to go to college where a coach had pigmentation in his skin. And I, I thought that was kind of sad. But I thought at the end of that is sort of the examiner and I said, Well, there’s only two or three guys, maybe he’s just making a point here, and maybe as a guy who has the profile to make such a point. And let’s be honest, this league is 80% upwards of African Americans in this league. And at some point you got to stand up and say, what’s going on just smells funny. And even if you’re going to put a face on to something here that seems like it’s fair and I all I want is fair.

Johnnie Cochran  05:45

So we talked about it being fair, and you gotta be judged by your abilities and your ability to carry as far as they should go and not you shouldn’t be held back by some artificial glass ceiling because you’re not part of the old boys club. That’s what we’re saying

Nestor Aparicio  05:57


with you guys. What are you hoping to have happen you’re because the Wayne Weaver thing is done that the milk has been spilled the the power cells thing, and I don’t think anybody if you want to question Sherry, and there’s a process and so he hired the best candidate in Bill Parcells. But right now to my eyes, the best candidate out there is Danny green, and he hasn’t gotten that crack yet. And use look at the track record. Look it up. That’s all you need to do. Right? And you can see that that that that’s there. What are you hoping to accomplish by bringing attention not only on my radio show, you’re doing a radio circuit here and at a press conference, I’m sure you’ll be on SportsCenter and all that stuff. What are you hoping to accomplish beyond awareness is any everybody in the NFL we’re aware, we kind of look at the sidelines and see why you look at a field see black,

Johnnie Cochran  06:37

we think that as the we approach the Superbowl, this is a real critical time that Mr. Tagliabue will be speaking to the state of the NFL on Friday, we hoping that he will address these issues and the progress they’ve made, or the lack of progress has been made, and the future of the League. He starts at the top. If he endorses his as he has endorsed these changes, it’s going to make a big difference. And I think it’s important, what can

Nestor Aparicio  06:59

the players do? And how much do you lobby the players to try to step up because I mean, individually nothing together just like winning the Super Bowl, the the African American players in this league could create some change by simply coming to the forefront on this issue.


What you’re gonna see in Cincinnati are players are going to respond to Marvin Lewis because they know the battles he had to he had to wage and what struggles he overcame. To get to that position,


Nestor Aparicio  07:25

I saw a writer say that, that they’re gonna play harder for black coach, and they will like, that’s kind of sad. I mean, that’s a that’s a sad, negative,


but I don’t know, if it’s because of black and white, they know that the best person emerged in that city, you can say that in Jacksonville, you can’t say that when the owner had blinders on, had a narrow focus didn’t have a broad vision, when he went down to seem to the Senior Bowl, how are the players gonna know the best guy was chosen?

Johnnie Cochran  07:49

I think you’re gonna see guys, though, I think really, you are going to see guys who really will give her all because of the history of a Marvin Lewis and what he’s gone through, you know what a good guy is. And he Plus, he’s gonna have a great defense there. And when it all starts with the defense, we clearly so we’re going to see what happens. And we hope that the league will endorse what we’re trying to do here, as they have thus far and put some teeth in the product and the whole process and make it work.

Nestor Aparicio  08:09


You’d rather see this be a friendly thing than an acrimonious thing we certainly would have.


Absolutely and one thing we’re going to call on today is for more diversity in the front office’s and in the coordinator ranks particularly offensive coordinator by requiring that diverse candidates a right in your town is Shaq Harris, who is one of the top

Nestor Aparicio  08:27

people I got the test release. This morning. It either says he’s going out to Seattle, now he’s talking to Seattle,


right. And there are a number of top front office positions that are vacant right now. James Harris is the only minority candidate wherever he’s been interviewed. Let’s expand it. Let’s give a Harris a shot. Let’s give some other guys a shot. Let’s open the door. So there’s fair competition. There are a lot of teams, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs that don’t have they’re totally lily white, they don’t have a person of color anywhere in a position of authority in the field. Right. What does that say when you’re in a city like Miami?


Nestor Aparicio  08:59

What does it say about college football, you know, you’re picking on the NFL or college football or 250 jobs, not 32. I mean, what college football has done to me is way more disgraceful than anything the NFL is done. When the NFL is legitimately I think trying to give it a go.


But the NFL is America’s game when they can show some leadership. The Rooney plan is a good solid plan, but it comes up to execution. Just like you can have a good game plan on Sunday but you don’t have good execution. Right now the execution has been mixed. We’d like it to be robustly brought about and fully carried out by the owners and college said

Johnnie Cochran  09:33

get off the hook that’s down the road. All right.

Nestor Aparicio  09:35


Well let you go man, I saw you on TV all during the OJ thing. Many people mentioned OJ every day of your life.

Johnnie Cochran  09:40

I hear it very often but not much of that is the first time today. No no one of the guys said something about it. You said he believed okay.

Nestor Aparicio  09:47

Everybody gets your 15 minutes I don’t answer you’ll always be the OJ got


a lot more than Oj I want to

Nestor Aparicio  09:54

point this out Johnnie Cochran is wearing purple That’s a perfect that’s the color of Aquarius. That’s the color of the Ravens. And we shall return you guys, Johnnie Cochran and Osiris Mayer. Thanks very much. Good luck with your press conference. Good luck with your issues over there. Give my best to Warren Moon and we’ll step back take a break for 115 70 Back for more the Budweiser sportswear brought to you by Toyota Live from San Diego.

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