Gruden's Raiders reboot begins with investigation demand, coach bailing


The NFL said Thursday it will investigate whether the Raiders violated the so-called Rooney Rule when they hired Jon Gruden as coach. The rule states that teams must interview minority candidates for head coach and general manager openings.

After a disappointing 6-10 season, the Oakland Raiders have decided to make some major changes to the coaching staff.

Davis fired coach Jack Del Rio a week later, and the team officially hired Gruden on January 6.

The investigation comes one day after the Fritz Pollard Alliance called on the National Football League to investigate whether the rule on minority interviews was violated by the Raiders when they hired Jon Gruden as coach.

Of the 28 teams that now have a head coach, only seven are minorities, as classified by the Rooney Rule. This came after Davis hounded the then-ESPN analyst for six years, meeting with him several times over that span. The following year, Davis hired Reggie McKenzie (a minority) as general manager.

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Of course, the rule works only if the NFL enforces it, which is why the Fritz Pollard Alliance and others are so adamant that the league look into whether the Raiders took it seriously in this case.

But apparently the group has back peddled from that stance after new reports suggest that Gruden and the Raiders may have had an agreement in place dating back to Christmas Eve (even before coach Jack Del Rio was fired). In requiring that teams interview non-white coaches, the rule not only has a direct result on the coaching ranks but also gives minority coaches a boost in profile and puts them on the teams' radars for future hires.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, USC coordinator Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson were interviewed for the position.

While Gruden and none of his three coordinator hires are minorities, Oakland did retain Thompson as tight ends coach from the previous coaching regime.

Whether it was hiring a young linebackers coach named John Madden as their head coach in 1969, a Super Bowl squad led by a Latino head coach and QB in the '80s or hiring the NFL's first Black head coach in Art Shell, the franchise often went against the norms of the day.