The NFL has something called the Rooney Rule. It requires each team with a coaching opening to interview at least one minority for the job. Not an overly complicated rule, but kind of silly. After all, some minority coaches have to know they’re only being interviewed to comply with the rule, right? Take Oakland, for example. Did anyone think Jon Gruden wouldn’t get that job?
It doesn’t matter though. Now, a group that handles diversity issues for the league is asking the NFL to investigate the Raiders for a potential Rooney Rule violation.
“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,” said Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru, attorneys for The Fritz Pollard Alliance, in a written statement. “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,” they wrote.
The problem is, the Raiders did interview minority candidates. Two of them, in fact. Current tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC head coach Tee Martin were interviewed.
However, neither is Jon Gruden.
Gruden’s name has come up for almost every coaching job in the league ever since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. With five division championships and a Super Bowl in his ten years as a head coach, it’s not surprising.
Of course, this shows the biggest problem with the Rooney Rule. While it’s well-intentioned, it doesn’t actually do anything except encourage teams to interview minority coaches as a matter of form. You can’t make a team consider anyone they don’t want to consider, so it means some coaches are just wasting their time.
With Oakland, which Gruden coached from 1998-2001 before being hired by Tampa Bay, the only way Gruden wasn’t getting the job was if he either didn’t want it or he completely lost his mind during interviews and began urinating on the table or something. Johnson and Martin were never in the running if Gruden wanted the job.