Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Bucs coach Tony Dungy has long fought for minority inclusion in the hiring of NFL head coaches and executives, and has spoken out when he has thought teams haven't followed the process in the true spirit of the "Rooney Rule," which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
But Dungy is more than okay with the 49ers hiring John Lynch, who starred for Dungy and the Bucs, as their general manager despite Lynch having no personnel or executive experience.
"I'm fine with it," Dungy said. "They kind of went outside the box. They're doing what they believe in. You could never condemn anyone for that. Yes, there's minority guys who have worked to go up the ladder. But you can say the same thing about white guys in the structure of things, too.
"To me, that's what they chose to do in this case. That was their M.O. It was thought out. They took the time in the process. To me, that's what you're asking for. I'm not asking you to hire a minority candidate every time. I'm asking you to think outside the box and examine everybody. And when you do that, the process works.
"Nobody can tell you who to hire. Nobody can tell you who not to hire. Just go through the process, examine everything, and then you'll sink and swim on what you did. I think they'll swim well.
"They had a blueprint. That's all you can ask. It was outside the box. The man who this rule was named for is famous for doing that (Steelers owner Dan Rooney). When he hired Mike Tomlin (as head coach), I could say hooray. When he hired Bill Cowher, it's the same formula. I could say hooray because I knew Dan's heart. He hired the best person. He had a blueprint for what he wanted."
"You can make the argument: Does this happen for black players. It hasn't, probably. But (late Steelers coach) Chuck Noll hired me when I was 25 years old when I hadn't coached a day."
Saturday is Hall of Fame day, when Lynch finds out if he makes Canton. Dungy, who was enshrined last year, will be on hand for the announcement.
"I came here (to Super Bowl site Houston, where the vote is taking place) thinking John came here with a shot," Dungy said. "Of all the defensive players, John should be the next guy to go in. I don't see Brian Dawkins or Jason Taylor going in before him. Ring of Honor for the Bucs, the Ring of Honor for Denver, played at a high level for two franchises, all those Pro Bowls. It makes sense."