The Raiders, by all appearances, fired Jack Del Rio because they know they’ll be hiring Jon Gruden. While they’ll undoubtedly find a way to check the Rooney Rule box by interviewing a minority candidate for the job, the spirit of the provision named for the late Dan Rooney isn’t being honored if the Raiders know they’ll be hiring Gruden before complying.
Some have argued that the franchise’s history of hiring key employees who weren’t while males should count for something, from coach Tom Flores to coach Art Shell (twice) to team president Amy Trask to G.M. Reggie McKenzie. Trask, who now works for CBS, disagrees that the diversity promoted by Al Davis in an era of anything but diversity should excuse non-compliance with the Rooney Rule now.
“Many have asked me whether I think [Oakland should be required to comply [with the] Rooney Rule or whether [Oakland] should be given leeway [because] of Al’s legacy,” Trask said on Twitter. “If [Oakland] opts to comply, it should do so honestly and in good faith. If [Oakland] does not wish to do that, it should be forthright and choose to pay a fine. But I don’t believe that Al’s legacy should be used as justification for noncompliance — Al hired Tom and Art and me — and Al would be the first to be saddened if it was.”
Regardless of what anyone thinks of the Rooney Rule or whether past diverse hiring practices excuses current noncompliance, the rule remains on the books, and it is mandatory. While it’s possible that the Raiders will persuade a minority candidate to sit for a job that he knows he’ll never get, the rule was created in part to avoid situations like this, where the team essentially hires the replacement before firing the current coach.