Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, who was criticized for not following the spirit of the Rooney Rule when hiring Jon Gruden last offseason, said the rule has "never been necessary" for the club.
"On the Rooney Rule, obviously it must be necessary in society for some reason. It's never been necessary for the Raiders,” Davis told reporters Wednesday. "My first hire was Reggie McKenzie, and it wasn't out of any...I didn't realize what color he was. He had red hair and freckles. I don't work like that.
"But I think if they strengthen it, that's great. And we're going to follow that, just as we did last year. It'll be a little more transparent this time."
The NFL expanded the Rooney Rule earlier Wednesday to ensure a team's "final decision-maker" will be involved when interviewing minority candidates for coaching or front office hires. Davis was not part of the interviews for Tee Martin or Bobby Johnson, who were the Rooney Rule candidates for the Raiders last year.
"Since the inception of the Rooney Rule, we have seen the rule adopted across business sectors and considered an industry best practice to increase diversity," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The policy updates made today will bolster the current Rooney Rule requirements and are intended to create additional opportunities for diverse candidates to be identified, interviewed, and ultimately hired when a vacancy becomes available."
The Rooney Rule has been in place since 2003.
Reggie McKenzie, who is black, was the Raiders' general manager from 2012 until his firing Monday. His departure comes of little surprise, given Gruden's strong hand in personnel matters.
"One of the issues we have right now is when you're dealing with player personnel and the General Managers, they're on a different schedule than the football team is," Davis said. "The General Manager sees an end basically in April or May after they've drafted the players and after they've gotten through the first series of free agency. So right now, there's a lot of people that are on other teams that may be suitable for the Raiders, but we can't talk to them, and we won't be able to talk to them until May or so. So right now we're limited to talking to people who are not on other teams or in the college ranks or something of that nature. That's the interesting part of this."