Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

National Football League offers reported explanation for Raiders' Rooney Rule clearance

National Football League offers reported explanation for Raiders' Rooney Rule clearance

The NFL announced Friday it has determined the Raiders complied with the Rooney Rule in their hiring of coach Jon Gruden, concluding a roughly weeklong investigation and prompting swift disagreement from the organization that requested the review.

The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview at least one person from a minority background for each head coaching or senior football operations position.

There has been some doubt surrounding the situation given that team owner Mark Davis had revealed he had secretly got an agreement from Gruden to take the job before letting go of Jack Del Rio from the position. The Raiders said they'd complied with the rule by interviewing Bobby Johnson, their tight ends coach, and Tee Martin, the offensive coordinator at Southern Cal.

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Instead of taking the Raiders job, Sumlin headed down south, taking the Arizona head coaching position. "In his enthusiasm to hire Jon Gruden, Raiders owner Mark Davis failed to fulfill his obligation under the Rule and should step forward and acknowledge he violated the Rule". This has received much criticism for how it was handled, but it also makes it clear that there need to be some adjustments made to better implement the rule.

The league spoke to owner Mark Davis, general manager Reggie McKenzie, and Gruden in the course of the investigation, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. He has been out of coaching since being fired by Tampa Bay after the 2008 season. Gruden's hire has garnered scrutiny from the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Gruden has prior history with Oakland, serving as the head coach for four seasons and compiling a 38-26 record over the span.

John Wooten, founding member of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. One practical application could be potentially requiring teams to immediately report to the league office any interviews conducted with candidates not now employed by NFL teams. "The Rooney Rule was never meant to prompt consideration of a candidate of color in the event that a white candidate, who faced no competition, declined an offer". Before its implementation there were only seven total minority head coaches in the National Football League, and the year before it was implemented there were only two current minority head coaches in the NFL.

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The Fritz Pollard Alliance said in a statement it "strongly" disagrees with the findings, citing three points of contention.

The NFL fined then-Lions general manager Matt Millen $200,000 in 2003 after violating the rule in hiring Steve Mariucci as head coach.

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