The Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that works closely with the NFL on its minority hiring, has asked the league to investigate the Oakland Raiders for what it calls a possible violation of the Rooney Rule related to the process by which the team hired Jon Gruden as its coach.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Oakland Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, came to an agreement with Jon Gruden about him becoming the Raiders’ next head coach before interviewing any candidates of color,” Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru, attorneys for the group, said in a written statement to media organizations. “If so, the Club violated the Rooney Rule, which was instituted by the NFL in 2003 and requires teams to interview at least one candidate of color for open head coaching and general manager positions.
“As soon as we learned of the reports, we formally requested that the NFL thoroughly investigate the matter to conclusively determine whether the Rooney Rule was violated — and if it was violated, to impose an appropriate punishment.”
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Both the league and the Fritz Pollard Alliance previously had said the Raiders were in compliance with the minority interviewing rule, which is named for late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.
The Raiders formally introduced Gruden as their new coach Tuesday after signing him to a 10-year contract that apparently could be worth as much as around $100 million. Davis fired Jack Del Rio as the Raiders’ coach on the same day the team’s season ended.
The Raiders’ view is that they complied with the Rooney Rule by interviewing their own tight ends coach, Bobby Johnson, and Tee Martin, the offensive coordinator at the University of Southern California.
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue fined Matt Millen, then the Detroit Lions’ president, $200,000 in 2003 for failing to interview a minority candidate before hiring Steve Mariucci as the team’s coach. Tagliabue told NFL owners during a meeting that year that any future violation of the rule could result in a fine of $500,000 or more for conduct detrimental to the league.
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