As if it wasn’t clear that the Raiders had no regard or serious interest in the Rooney Rule, the candidates they interviewed so they could rubber stamp the Jon Gruden hiring made it apparent.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie said during Gruden’s introductory press conference that he interviewed tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and Southern Cal offensive coordinator Tee Martin to comply with the league’s rule that mandates minority candidates for head coaching jobs.
With all due respect to Johnson and Martin (here comes the disrespect), neither would be considered a serious candidate for any head coaching job in the NFL, for any other reason than to check off a box. That’s not to say they’re not talented coaches, but their resumes lack what you’d call depth.
Johnson, 45, has been with the Raiders as tight ends coach since 2015. He has eight years of NFL experience, as an assistant offensive line coach with the Bills (2010-11), a tight ends coach with the Jaguars (2012), an assistant line and tight ends coach with the Lions (2013-14) before being hired by the Raiders. Prior to that, he worked in the college ranks, at Indiana, Miami (Ohio) and Akron. This is his first known interview for an NFL head coaching job. For some reason.
Martin, 39, played a bit in the NFL. The former Tennessee quarterback (who followed Peyton Manning and won a national title for the Vols) had stints with the Raiders, Eagles and Steelers. All of his coaching experience has been in the sub-professional ranks — at USC, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Morehouse (along with North Cobb and North Atlanta High Schools). This was his first known interview for an NFL head coaching job as well. For some reason.
The Rooney Rule has created valuable experience for a number of candidates, but the way the Raiders used it (when they knew they were hiring Gruden) insults both our intelligence and the spirit of the rule. Again, it’s clear Gruden was the guy they wanted and only being outbid would prevent it. But watching them wipe their feet on the rule so shamelessly only tarnishes the reputation of an organization that has done so many other good things to increase opportunities for a diverse group of talented people, from Tom Flores to Art Shell to Amy Trask.