National Football League deems Raiders complied with Rooney Rule, won't be disciplined

NFL says Raiders complied with Rooney Rule in hiring of Jon Gruden

The NFL launched an investigation into the Raiders' hiring process shortly after Gruden was announced as the team's new head coach.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which had called for an investigation out of concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates, released a statement saying the National Football League made the wrong call in not penalizing Davis.

The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate as part of an open process. The Raiders did interview two minority candidates-USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson, who was Oakland's tight ends coach under Jack Del Rio-but there's no indication either was actually considered for the job. While it is not questioned that these candidates were interviewed, the contention is that it had already been decided that Gruden was to be hired and that the minority candidates were only brought in to technically satisfy the Rooney Rule while violating its spirit. 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.

"We strongly disagree with the NFL's conclusion that the Raiders did not violate the Rooney Rule", the organization said in a statement.

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Instead of taking the Raiders job, Sumlin headed down south, taking the Arizona head coaching position. The Rooney Rule and all of the League's equal opportunity efforts need to be strengthened.

The NFL fined then-Lions general manager Matt Millen $200,000 in 2003 after violating the rule in hiring Steve Mariucci as head coach. It is believed Davis, if determined to have violated the Rooney Rule, would have faced at least a $500,000 fine as discipline. In a further explanation to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio on Saturday, the league said that they were satisfied that the Raiders conducted "bona fide interviews".

Davis said at Gruden's introductory news conference that he pursued Gruden for six years. After his initial firing, Gruden went on to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Raiders have a longstanding reputation as a champion of opportunity for underrepresented people in the NFL. Following their blistering report, it was revealed that even though black coaches had a higher victor percentage than their white counterparts they were still more likely to be fired and less likely to be hired. Davis hired McKenzie, who is African-American, in 2012.

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