The Fritz Pollard Alliance has changed its tune regarding the compliance of the Raiders with the Rooney Rule.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Oakland Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, came to an agreement with Jon Gruden about him becoming the Raiders’ next head coach before interviewing any candidates of color,” the group said in a statement issued on Wednesday night. “If so, the Club violated the Rooney Rule, which was instituted by the NFL in 2003 and requires teams to interview at least one candidate of color for open head coaching and general manager positions.
“As soon as we learned of the reports, we formally requested that the NFL thoroughly investigate the matter to conclusively determine whether the Rooney Rule was violated — and if it was violated, to impose an appropriate punishment.”
The news of a potential violation didn’t come from “reports,” however. The news came from an admission by Raiders owner Mark Davis that, as many suspected, the Raiders reached an agreement in principle with Gruden before firing Jack Del Rio. Which, as PFT explained when it was merely suspected that the Raiders struck a deal with Gruden before firing Del Rio, means that the job was never vacant. Which means that there was no way of complying with the Rooney Rule, no matter how many minority candidates were interviewed after Del Rio was fired.
As noted earlier today, PFT asked the league during a recent media briefing whether it’s permissible to reach an agreement in principle with a new coach before firing the current coach. The league still hasn’t provided an answer, quite possibly because there is no good answer.