NFL Investigating Raiders' Possible Rooney Rule Violation After Jon Gruden Hire

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2018

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, right, and owner Mark Davis answer questions during an NFL football press conference Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The Oakland Raiders found their next head coach in Jon Gruden, but the NFL is reportedly investigating how they reached their decision.

On Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the league is "now looking into" the process Oakland used to hire Gruden and whether it violated the Rooney Rule. This comes after Schefter reported the 10-year, $100 million contract Oakland gave Gruden was the longest coaching deal in NFL history.

The Rooney Rule means teams have to interview at least one minority candidate before making a coaching hire, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Raiders satisfied the requirement by interviewing Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson.

However, it would be an issue if Oakland made the decision to hire Gruden before it conducted those interviews, as Fritz Pollard Alliance counsel Cyrus Mehri explained, per ESPN.com: "But if in December, Gruden and Davis reach an agreement—not necessarily a written, contractual agreement, but a verbal agreement—that Gruden was going to coach for the Raiders, and then after that they do these interviews with minority coaches, that would be a violation of the Rooney Rule."

ESPN.com noted Raiders owner Mark Davis said he wanted Gruden as the head coach since he took over the team from his late father, Al Davis, six years ago.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance asked the NFL to investigate the Raiders and whether they satisfied the Rooney Rule in a statement Wednesday, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman tweeted the Raiders were "making a total sham" of the rule even while praising Gruden's hiring:

On the field, Gruden will take over for Jack Del Rio after the latter was fired following a 6-10 season. Gruden has served as an ESPN commentator for Monday Night Football during the last nine years, although he previously coached the Raiders (1998-2001) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-08), amassing a 95-81 record and winning a Super Bowl.

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