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Advocacy group calls on NFL to investigate Raiders to violating ‘Rooney Rule’

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ALAMEDA — The Fritz Pollard Alliance called Wednesday for the NFL to investigate whether the Oakland Raiders violated the “Rooney Rule” when they hired Jon Gruden as coach.

Fritz Pollard Alliance counsel Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru said they were concerned that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates as required by the NFL since 2003.

“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,” they said.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams.

Davis said Tuesday at the news conference introducing Gruden as the team’s new coach that he had been trying to make the move for six years and finally believed it would happen after a meeting in Philadelphia on Christmas Eve, the day before Gruden worked a game between the Raiders and Eagles on ESPN.

“I felt pretty confident that he was all-in,” Davis said. “And that’s the term that we were using in our discussions and everything, are you all-in? And I never wavered from all-in. And this time he didn’t waver, either.”

Davis fired Jack Del Rio a week later and the team officially hired Gruden on Jan. 6. Davis also said he wouldn’t have fired Del Rio if he didn’t believe Gruden would sign on as coach.

“I believe that I would’ve sat down with Jack and we would’ve figured out coordinators and assistant coaches and things like that and try to figure out how to re-invigorate the franchise through Jack,” he said.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Tuesday he interviewed two minority candidates before Gruden’s hiring was announced. Those candidates were Oakland tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin.

The Raiders and the NFL had no immediate comment Wednesday night on the request from the Fritz Pollard Alliance.

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