NFL confirms Raiders complied with Rooney Rule


The Oakland Raiders complied with the Rooney Rule during the process leading to head coach Jon Gruden's hiring, the NFL concluded Friday.

The league found the Raiders conducted bona fide interviews with minority candidates as part of its coaching search, which was finalized less than a week after the team parted ways with coach Jack Del Rio. The franchise faced the possibility of a fine if they were found not to be in compliance with the Rooney Rule prior to hiring Gruden.

The announcement comes one week after the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes diversity in NFL front offices and coaching staffs, asked the league to investigate whether the Raiders potentially reached an agreement with Gruden before interviewing minority candidates. The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for coaching jobs.

In a statement released Friday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance said it "strongly disagreed" with the NFL's decision.

"We believe the facts overwhelmingly point in the other direction," the alliance said in a statement obtained by NFL Network's Steve Wyche. "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."

The Fritz Pollard Alliance has requested a meeting with the NFL to ensure "a process like this never happens again."

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie interviewed two minority candidates -- Oakland tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin -- before the team officially hired Gruden on Jan. 6. Prior to Gruden's hiring, the Fritz Pollard Alliance initially believed the Raiders were in compliance with the Rooney Rule.

However, during Gruden's introductory news conference, Raiders owner Mark Davis said he met with Gruden in Philadelphia on Christmas Eve, and felt "pretty confident that he was all-in" after their meeting.

"...That's the term that we were using in our discussions and everything, are you all-in? And I never wavered from all-in. And this time he didn't waver, either," Davis said.

Davis fired coach Del Rio after the Raiders' Dec. 31 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Davis told reporters he would have retained Del Rio if Gruden wasn't available, adding that he had been pursuing the former Monday Night Football color commentator for six years.