Raiders Likely Facing Fine As NFL Looks Into Possible Rooney Rule Violation
The Raiders "will almost certainly get fined" for violating the Rooney Rule when they hired Jon Gruden as coach, and they "probably deserve to get fined," according to Tim Kawakami of THE ATHLETIC. The NFL on Thursday announced plans to formally investigate whether the Raiders broke the rule, but they "almost certainly violated the spirit and intent" of the rule when team Owner Mark Davis "raced to an agreement" with Gruden. Davis had decided he was either "going to finally land Gruden after a six-year chase or he was going to stick with Jack Del Rio as his coach." Davis admitted on Tuesday that he and Gruden "came to a general agreement on Christmas Eve, the night before the Raiders' penultimate game." The timetable runs "afoul of the Rooney Rule," but Davis was not "purposely flouting an important part of the NFL's commitment to diversity." Once Gruden was ready to sign, the Raiders were "not going to seriously consider any other candidate, minority or otherwise." However, teams cannot "skip over rules just because of worthy behavior in the past." Each new event "can and should be judged on its own" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/12). ESPN's Bill Polian said, "I would expect some NFL discipline for this and perhaps, rightly so." He added there is "not only a good case for discipline" against the Raiders "but probably a need for some" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 1/11). ESPN's Dan Le Batard: "Whatever their history is on this subject, it doesn't mean that this isn't a violation of the Rooney Rule" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 1/11).
ALREADY MADE YOUR DECISION: NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kelli Johnson said if a team owner "has his mind set on a coaching candidate, it doesn't really matter when he interviews those other candidates." Johnson: "If he has all intents and purposes to hire, then the Rooney Rule really means nothing” ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 1/11). ESPN's Pablo Torre said if a team "has a coach in mind that they’ve been chasing ... there really isn’t a good way” to interview minority candidates" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 1/11). FS1’s Jason Whitlock said people’s expectations of the Rooney Rule "probably need to be modified.” There is “some value” to the rule, but “what really creates jobs and opportunity is success.” Whitlock: “The Rooney Rule is cosmetic, it’s not a solution” (“Speak For Yourself,” FS1, 1/11). Meanwhile, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "If you own a team, you should be able to hire who you want" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/11).
WORTH THE FINE: NBC SPORTS BAY AREA's Ray Ratto noted the Raiders are "right to be called on" violating of the rule, but they will "give up $200,000 and move on without a moment's concern with Gruden as their head coach." Any amount of a fine is a "grossly insignificant deterrent to a billionaire getting what he wants, and it doesn't come with any kind of shaming mechanism" (NBCBAYAREA.com, 1/11). But NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa said, “I don't care if this organization has to pay $2 million, $200,000 or $0.02, I don't think they want to be aligned with any kind of a racial smear" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 1/11).
HE WHO LAUGHS LAST: In Las Vegas, Ed Graney wonders whether Gruden and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie "will speak last and loudest" on personnel decisions. If someone is "going to be lured out of the comforts of a television booth after nine years away from coaching, you’re probably asking for money and power." McKenzie was the league’s Exec of the Year in '16, but Gruden will now "become heavily involved in which names are called for the Raiders" in April (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 1/12).