Here's the rule of thumb for this story.
Ignore every instance of an assistant coach being allowed to join another team for a promotion, unless it's the Denver Broncos. Are we good? Are we making sense? OK, making sense isn't really our goal here. Let's sell by invoking sensitive social issues...
Within two sentences of an editorial on the Bengals keeping defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, Benjamin Hochman with the Denver Post, had race enter into the narrative.
The Cincinnati Bengals aren't doing anything wrong, but it just feels wrong. Of all the NFL teams, the Bengals should understand the spirit of the Rooney Rule, for they have an African-American head coach.
Six times the phrase "Rooney Rule" showed up in the commentary. African-American was mentioned seven times.
Much like Mike Klis' similarly race-focused commentary last week, this editorial also conveniently disregards at least 10 examples of coaches losing out on promotions because their original team said no, including African-Americans (49ers denied the Bills an opportunity to speak with Ronald Curry). We don't care about them because they're not the Broncos and land outside of Denver's border.
And yet, Bengals owner Mike Brown so far isn't letting Joseph go. If he's this good, why not make him the Bengals' defensive coordinator?
Similarly, why didn't the Broncos hire Joseph as their head coach when they interviewed him several weeks ago? Why did the Broncos allow word to saturate the news-cycle that the job was handed to John Elway's good buddy, Gary Kubiak? Denver satisfied the Rooney Rule by taking advantage of Joseph, and then hired Kubiak anyway. We could make a social stink about this but we're not... why? Because race isn't the issue. Qualification is.
And for every social commentary about the Bengals "doing wrong" by Denver Post writers, it only emboldens Cincinnati's decision to keep one of their best coaches. Who's to say that Joseph even wants to work for Denver? Who's to say that the Bengals didn't promise Joseph something better? Ignorance is a terrible symptom to expose yourself to while making radical commentaries on social issues.
It's hard because Lewis himself was once a position coach and was offered a coordinator job. It was in 1995, when he was asked to be the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator. Lewis had been the linebackers coach for the Steelers, owned by, yup, the Rooney family. Pittsburgh let Lewis go, and Lewis was on his way to moving up the ladder to getting a head coaching position.
Social commentary at its best, this is a selective argument that ties into the overall commentary. Tony Dungy and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to speak with Marvin Lewis in 1995 regarding their vacant defensive coordinator position. The Pittsburgh Steelers denied Tampa Bay.