The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which has served as a watchdog for diversity in the NFL, has ripped the league for allowing the Raiders to get away with two Rooney Rule interviews that are widely regarded as shams.
“We strongly disagree with the NFL’s conclusion that the Raiders did not violate the Rooney Rule,” the Fritz Pollard Alliance said in a statement. “We believe the facts overwhelmingly point in the other direction. 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 Raiders say they fulfilled the Rooney Rule because they interviewed two minorities, their own tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin, before naming Jon Gruden their head coach. The NFL bought that explanation, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance says those interviews were meaningless.
“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 statement said. “Davis crossed the line, and we are disappointed in the League’s decision. The Rooney Rule and all of the League’s equal opportunity efforts need to be strengthened. We have called for meetings with the League to ensure that a process like this never happens again.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance has usually been open to accepting NFL teams’ explanations about interviewing minority candidates, but in this case, Raiders owner Mark Davis admitted he had an agreement with Gruden before Jack Del Rio was fired, which means the job was never really open. That’s where the Fritz Pollard Alliance says the Raiders crossed the line and the NFL should have stepped in.