The Rooney Rule is described as the NFL’s policy that requires league teams to Interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs among their coaching search. Today NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart confirmed the Raiders have fulfilled the Rooney rule in their coaching ‘search.’
Everyone knows the Raiders are hiring Jon Gruden, so the Rooney Rule, in this instance, was a formality. But it’s still a valuable formality.
Many have criticized the way in which the rule in implemented because of how easily it is subverted. Others have argued that it’s better than nothing.
Mark Davis has been looking to hire Jon Gruden for years. Everyone knows it. So, when Gruden finally relented, the job was his.
Knowing this, many had suggested the Raiders should do the honorable thing, instead of going through the charade of interviewing minority coaches, and giving the appearance of making a mockery of the process, just pay the fine instead.
Those who argue for the benefits of the rule would suggest different.
There are three primary benefits to the Rooney Rule. The first is obviously the fact that it presumably gives equal opportunity to minority candidates. Give them a chance to prove they’re worthy. That’s the primary purpose of the rule. But even when the team has their heart set on another coach, there are other benefits.
The next is for minority coaches to get their names out there as potential head coaching candidates. Their names get out there and teams take notice for future reference.
The third reason is for them to get in that room and get the experience of going through that process.
Many times, I would say probably most times, when a team is looking to hire a coach, they know who they want going in. This case is one of the more extreme instances of knowing who they want to hire even before firing the previous head coach.
According to ESPN’s Jim Trotter, there were two candidates the Raiders interviewed — Currently employed tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and an unidentified college coach.
The Raiders complied with the Rooney Rule earlier in the week by interviewing tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and an unidentified college coach. Gruden hiring expected to be announced no later than early next week.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) January 5, 2018
So much for the benefits of the process. An already employed position coach who happens to be black and a college coach who doesn’t even get his name out there as a potential NFL head coaching candidate isn’t exactly the spirit of the rule. It didn’t do anyone any favors. It just saved the Raiders from paying a fine.
As an organization the Raiders are above reproach when it comes to minority hires. Al Davis was well ahead of the curve in that regard, hiring the first minority head coach (Tom Flores) first African American head coach (Art Shell), and the first and only ever female CEO (Amy Trask). Mark Davis then made as his first hire to bring in Reggie McKenzie as his GM.
So, yeah, everyone is well aware they have championed the intention behind the implementation of the Rooney Rule. In this particular instance though, they could have done a lot better by it.