Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Did the Raiders violate the Rooney Rule?

The NFL seems set to investigate the Raiders hiring process to see if they violated the league’s Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for the head coaching job. The Raiders did interview two minorities, Bobby Johnson, the Raiders former tight ends coach, and Tee Martin, the former offensive coordinator at USC.

The problems arise from the timing of owner Mark Davis’ discussions with new head coach Jon Gruden.

The Fitz Pollard Alliance requested that the NFL investigate the Raiders with the following statement.

“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. 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.”

Jack Del Rio was fired immediately after the Raiders week 17 loss to the Chargers. In the week that followed, Johnson and Martin were interviewed for the job. The next Tuesday, Gruden was hired and signed his contract.

That is the official timeline for the Raiders head coaching search. But Davis himself has let on that he and Gruden talked in week 16 prior to the Raiders game in Philadelphia that Gruden called for ESPN.

Davis has not said that Gruden verbally accepted the job, but used the phrase “all in” to describe how Gruden felt about the job.

The argument against the Raiders is that while they officially complied with the Rooney Rule, a verbal agreement with Gruden essentially made those interviews with minority candidates meaningless, as the job was never open.

Hurting his team’s case even more, Davis acknowledged that he likely would not have fired Del Rio if Gruden were not going to be the next head coach of the Raiders. Thus implying that he had a verbal agreement with Gruden before he fired Del Rio.

Back in 2003 the Lions were fined $200,000 for not interviewing a minority candidate for their head coaching position.

Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.