ALAMEDA — The NFL said Friday that the Oakland Raiders complied with the "Rooney Rule" when they hired Jon Gruden as head coach.
The league said a review found the Raiders conducted "bona fide" interviews with minority candidates during their search for a replacement for the fired Jack Del Rio. The "Rooney Rule" requires NFL teams to consider at least one minority candidate before making an offer to a head coaching candidate. The team officially hired Gruden on Jan. 6.
General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week that he fulfilled the Rooney Rule by interviewing two minority candidates. He interviewed former Raiders tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin for the position.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance called for an investigation last week out of concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates. Raiders owner Mark Davis said during Gruden's introductory press conference that he was leaning towards Gruden after a Christmas meeting in Philadelphia. That timeline suggests Davis made up his mind to hire Gruden well before interviewing Johnson or Martin.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity on the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams, believes the Raiders violated the Rooney Rule.
“We strongly disagree with the NFL’s conclusion that the Raiders did not violate the Rooney Rule,” the Fritz Pollard Alliance said in a statement. “We believe the facts overwhelmingly point in the other direction. 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.”
“...The NFL broke ground when it created the Rooney Rule, but it made the wrong call in refusing to penalize Mark Davis in this instance. Davis crossed the line, and we are disappointed in the League’s decision. The Rooney Rule and all of the League’s equal opportunity efforts need to be strengthened. We have called for meetings with the League to ensure that a process like this never happens again.”
NBC Sports Bay Area reporter Scott Bair contributed to this report.