Former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis recounts ‘sham interview in Carolina

Marvin Lewis and John Fox (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Marvin Lewis and John Fox (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Former Cincinnati Bengals coach, Marvin Lewis, recounts his “sham” interview with the Carolina Panthers.

Back in 2001, Marvin Lewis — who was the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator at the time — was the architect of one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL. This, of course, allowed him to become one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates at the time. At least, that is how it seemed in the moment.

The Carolina Panthers came calling and interviewed Lewis for their vacant head coach position. Lewis went into the interview with some hope, as anyone likely would.

In reality, the Panthers organization had their minds made up beforehand. This reflects what Brian Flores is claiming in his lawsuit against the NFL.

Speaking on ESPN’s First Take, Coach Lewis describes his experience with an organization that already had its mind made up. Lewis says that during this coaching cycle, he secured an interview with the Richardson family, former owners of the Carolina Panthers.

Of that experience, Lewis states:

"“I did interview with the Carolina Panthers before John Fox got the job. And I can recall we had lost to the Steelers in the second round in the playoffs. And I remember sitting at home on Monday. I think it was Chris Mortensen or someone else reported that Foxy would be named the head coach of the Panthers on Friday.And when I went to work Tuesday, Brian came in and said ‘hey, I just got off the phone with Ozzy and the Panthers want you to come down and interview for the job.’ I said coach, ‘I just heard last night on T.V. that they’re going to name Foxy the coach on Friday.’ … I end up going down to Charlotte and so forth and meeting with the Richardson family. They said that wasn’t true and so forth. And they named John the head coach on Friday.”"

So in other words, the Richardson family and Panthers organization knew who they wanted to be their head coach. It was Fox all along.

Coach Lewis knew he was not going to get the job. But he went to the interview anyway. Thus mirroring what happened to Flores with his interview with the Giants.

Lewis did not get a head coaching job that year. As a matter of fact, he went on to become the defensive coordinator for the Washington NFL franchise (the newly-named Commanders) in 2002.

Of course, Lewis became the Head Coach of the Bengals in 2003. He successfully managed to turn a downtrodden franchise into a competitive team. Something he still does not get enough credit for.

Also, something that may have never have happened if it were not for the Rooney Rule that went into effect in 2003.

During his interview, Lewis explains that since leaving Cincinnati, he has had five interviews to return to the NFL. Unfortunately for him, and the NFL, none of them have panned out.

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