I agree, it IS there for a reason. But in this case Payton is far and away the best available HC, who happens to be white.
There is no question he will be highly sought out by every team wanting a coaching change. That is why everyone is trying how to satisfy the Rooney rule and still hire the best coach available.
That is the price we pay for passing over qualified coaches of color. There is no doubt this happened.
See the perspective of this post is what the Rooney rule is meant to avoid. Payton may have the best resume
, but that doesn’t mean the “best available HC.” If the best minority coaches never get interviewed and then never get a head coaching spot they can never develop the resume of a Payton. So the rule is meant to ensure that everyone, not just those in the old boy network loop, get interviewed, get the experience, and at a minimum the opportunity to knock an organization’s socks off. It’s meant to disrupt the historical loop. If Payton emerges from that process as the best, he gets hired.