National Football League probing possible 'Rooney rule' breach in Raiders deal


Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden answers questions during an NFL football press conference Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Alameda, Calif.

Fritz Pollard Alliance counsel Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru issued a statement Wednesday expressing concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates.

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This announcement of the investigation comes less than 24 hours after The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an advocacy group, asked the league to investigate the matter on the Raiders hiring process. Davis also said he wouldn't have fired Del Rio if he didn't believe Gruden would take the job. However, those interviews may have been conducted after an agreement had already been made with Gruden. General Manager Reggie McKenzie said Tuesday that the team had interviewed Raiders tight end coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin, but many observers were unsatisfied by that explanation.

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis was relentless in his pursuit of Jon Gruden - perhaps too relentless. Then-Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen was fined $200,000 when he was found guilty of breaking the rule in hiring Steve Mariucci as the team's head coach in 2003. Shell returned for a second stint with the team in 2006.

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Gruden's hire provoked some suspicion nearly immediately upon being reported last week. He posted a 38-26 regular-season record (40-28 overall) from 1998-2001 and guided the team to a pair of playoff berths, including appearances in the AFC Championship Game in his last two seasons. Former Raiders signal caller Rich Gannon was considered an option as quarterbacks coach.

As far as the Raiders go, Gruden's contract is expected to be for ten years and be worth up to $100 million, at least according to ESPN.

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