ST. LOUIS -- The NFL denied the St. Louis Rams' attempt to rework a contract with coach Jim Haslett that would ensure him a job beyond this season if he won six games because of a requirement that minority candidates be interviewed for head coaching vacancies.
Team president John Shaw said Saturday in a telephone interview with The AP that the league office cited the Rooney Rule when informing the Rams earlier this week, "either Tuesday or Wednesday."
"We gave them the language with the incentive bonus and they said the contract wouldn't qualify," Shaw said. "We were looking for a provision that would ensure him an extension if he won a certain amount of games."
Language in Haslett's contract refers to him as the head coach, not the interim coach. But Haslett's agent said his client has no problem going through the interview process and wanted to make it clear there was no intent to sneak a deal past the NFL.
"We are 100 percent behind the Rooney Rule, the intent, the goal and the application of it," Peter Schaffer told The AP. "We will do nothing to try to circumvent that rule.
"Jim wants to do everything in his power to further the goals of the Rooney Rule, and even if it works against him that's fine."
The Rams have won two straight games under Haslett, upsetting the Cowboys and Redskins, after firing Scott Linehan as head coach after an 0-4 start. St. Louis plays at New England on Sunday.
The Rooney Rule has been in place since 2003 to ensure that minority candidates be interviewed, although it does not apply to interim coaching changes. If the Rams want to hire Haslett as their full-time coach after the season, they'll be required to comply with the rule.
Shaw said the contract was to have served as a motivating factor for Haslett and for the team.
"It's been a very pleasant start," Shaw said. "But it's a long season, so you never know what's going to happen."
Haslett had been the team's defensive coordinator since 2006, joining Linehan before his first season. This is his second stint as a head coach after he was fired by the New Orleans Saints after the 2005 season.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press