Oakland Raiders being challenged over 'Rooney Rule'

The Oakland Raiders are facing questions about whether they may have violated the Rooney Rule when they hired Jon Gruden as coach.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity and equal opportunity in hires for coaching, the front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams, called Wednesday for the league to investigate the chronology of Gruden's hiring.

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Fritz Pollard Alliance counsels Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru expressed concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis may have struck a deal with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates as required by the league.

The Raiders and the NFL had no immediate comment Wednesday night.

Jon Gruden throughout his career
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Jon Gruden throughout his career
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe (84) talks to receivers coach Jon Gruden during a 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on January 2, 1994, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by Betsy Peabody Rowe/Getty Images)
21 Jul 1998: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the 1998 Oakland Raiders Training Camp in Napa, California. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport
27 Sep 1998: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Raiders defeated the Cowboys 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
17 Oct 1999: Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders talks to quarterback Rich Gannon #12 on the sidelines during the game against the Buffalo Bills at the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Raiders defeated the Bills 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1983 -- Pictured: (l-r) Raiders head coach Jon Gruden during an interview with host Jay Leno on January 22, 2001 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
ALAMEDA, UNITED STATES: Former San Francisco 49ers wide-receiver Jerry Rice (L) responds to questions after being introduced as a new Oakland Raider by head coach Jon Gruden 05 June 2001 at the Raiders facility in Alameda, California. The 12-Time Pro Bowler, and 2-Time NFL Player of the Year signed with the Raiders after 16 seasons with the 49ers. Rice told the media that he looks good in Silver and Black. AFP PHOTO / John G. MABANGLO (Photo credit should read JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP/Getty Images)
With Oakland Raiders' quarterback Rich Gannon (12) beside him, Raiders' head coach Jon Gruden smiles after the Raiders Tim Brown returned a punt 88-yards for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the third quarter of their game at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California, on December 9, 2001. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs by a score of 28-26. REUTERS/Susan Ragan LD
6 Jan 2002: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders talks to an official during the game against the New York Jets at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Jets won 24-22. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit : Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Jon Gruden celebrates as he is introduced as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a press conference, Tampa, Florida, February 20, 2002. At 38, Gruden agreed to a five-year 17.5 million dollar deal and is the youngest coach in the NFL. (Photo by Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)
DETROIT - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 15, 2002 in Detroit, Michigan. The Buccaneers won 23-20. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 24: Jon Gruden head coach of the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers answers questions during a press conference on January 24, 2003 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers will face the Oakland Raiders in Superbowl XXXVII on Sunday January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach Jon Gruden (R) celebrates victory just before the end of Super Bowl XXXVII, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, January 26, 2003. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21. REUTERS/Win McNamee MR/HB
SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 26: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers holds aloft the Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates after the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers won 48-21. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches his team take on the Buffalo Bills on September 18, 2005 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden yells during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Buccaneers defeated the Bengals, 14-13, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, Sunday, October 15, 2006. (Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - OCTOBER 7: Quarterback Jeff Garcia #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers listens to head coach Jon Gruden against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game October 7, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 19: Coach Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks hugs coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after play at Raymond James Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and now ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden looks on during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - AUGUST 15, 2014: ESPN's Monday Night Football Analyst and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden talks with owner Jimmy Haslam of the Cleveland Browns the sideline during a training camp practice on August 15, 2014 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. Cleveland will play the Washington Redskins on August 18 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DEC 18: MNF announcer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden speaks to the fans as he is Inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during the regular season game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 18, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 09: Oakland Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden speaks during a news conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters on January 9, 2018 in Alameda, California. Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after leaving the team in 2001. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Davis said Tuesday at the news conference introducing Gruden 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.

"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 take the job.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he interviewed Raiders tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin before Gruden was hired.

"If the facts end the way they seem to be right now, then I have full confidence the league will take appropriate action because they care about the Rooney Rule being a success as well," Mehri told ESPN. "The facts matter. Fairness matters. Fairness means fairness to Mark Davis and having a fair process, but also fairness as far as guys being able to compete with an open process and not a closed process."

Mehri acknowledged Al Davis, the Raiders' principal owner and general manager until his death in 2011, was a pioneer in minority hiring. He made Tom Flores the first Latino head coach in NFL history and Art Shell the first African-American head coach in the modern era.

"I have always felt a team can have a front-runner and minority candidates can compete against a front-runner, and sometimes they get selected," Mehri said. "But if there is a closed process and those minority candidates were going through the motions and had no idea there was already an agreement, that is not fair to them and it is not fair to the next guy coming up through the ranks."

-- Field Level Media

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