David Culley told Texans he didn’t want to be their Rooney Rule candidate

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Mark Lane
·3 min read
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David Culley has been in the NFL since 1994. The 65-year-old has seen his fair share of the NFL both on and off the field.

In 2003, the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for coaching and top football operations posts, such as general manager.

It can be argued some teams have found a way to skirt the Rooney Rule by simply interviewing a token minority candidate.

“This was my first time in 27 years in this league having an opportunity to interview for a head coaching job,” Culley told the Huddle&Flow podcast. “Now, quite frankly, when I got into this situation and got offered the opportunity to interview for this job, I’m sitting here and the first thing that went through my mind was this: I’ve never been a coordinator, I’ve never had an interview for a job as a head coach at this level, and then all of a sudden why me?”

When Culley, who as the passing game coordinator and receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2019-20, first talked with new Texans general manager Nick Caserio, he pointed out that the rookie GM would have to justify hiring him over other candidates such as Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

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Said Culley: “When I talked to Nick and the guys here, I says, ‘Look, if you hire me,’ this is the first thing that I said, ‘if you hire me, how do you justify hiring me when I look around all these other candidates that have been coordinators, some have been head coaches before, they’ve been interviewed multiple times in the league for jobs, sometimes two or three years and not getting jobs? How do you justify that?’ Because I did not want to be an interviewee because of the Rooney Rule. I did not want an interview to say that I’ve been interviewed for a job. I didn’t need that.”

As a prerequisite to the interview, Culley made sure that wasn’t the Texans’ intention, that he actually was being considered as the fourth full-time coach in franchise history. The discussions with the Texans revealed that it was Ravens coach John Harbaugh who advocated for Culley to be a coaching candidate.

“Basically I go back to John Harbaugh, the two years I spent with him in Baltimore being a big advocate of David Culley being a possible head coaching candidate without having any of the experience that all the other guys have, then when that happens, and I got the chance to interview for the job, man, I had no idea that I was going to be sitting in this position I am today,” said Culley.

Culley may have come into a mess with the Texans that features a club at odds with his franchise quarterback, who intends to never play another down for the team. However, Culley also embraces the opportunity to lead an NFL team based on his own merit and accomplishments.