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Goodell defends NFL’s finding that Raiders complied with Rooney Rule

Oakland Raiders Introduce Jon Gruden

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 09: Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden (L) and Raiders owner Mark Davis pose for a photograph during a news conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters on January 9, 2018 in Alameda, California. Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after leaving the team in 2001. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is standing by the Raiders, and by the Rooney Rule, despite questions being raised in the wake of Jon Gruden’s hiring about whether the league let the team get away with violating the spirit of the rule.

Asked about the Raiders first agreeing to hire Gruden and then interviewing minority candidates only after that, Goodell suggested that’s not what happened -- even though Raiders owner Mark Davis has acknowledged that’s what happened.

“I think we have a disagreement on the facts,” Goodell said. (He did not explain what was factually inaccurate about the premise of the question.)

Goodell said the league looked into the way the Raiders went about hiring Gruden and also interviewing two African-Americans, Bobby Johnson and Tee Martin, and found that the Raiders were in full compliance with the rule.

“There was a full investigation of that from our staff,” Goodell said.

The NFL adopted the Rooney Rule 15 years ago and has only found a team in violation once, when the Detroit Lions did not interview a minority candidate before hiring Steve Mariucci in 2003. If the Raiders were in full compliance this year, even though they knew they were hiring Gruden before they fired Jack Del Rio, it’s hard to believe the NFL will ever find any team in violation.