This week it was announced that the NFL’s Oakland Raiders had lured back former head coach Jon Gruden with a whopping ten-year $100 million deal with a potential ownership stake.
Gruden will be leaving the broadcasting booth and wading into what is perhaps one of the league’s most toxic locker room situations. Following a 12-4 breakout in 2016, the team sunk to 6-10 this year as it often seemed that players were more interested in making political statements by protesting President Trump and the national anthem than hitting the playbook.
The Raiders got just what they deserved when they lured surly thug running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement despite having years of evidence that he is a problem in the locker room. Once he got to Oakland, “Beast Mode” shocked head coach Jack Del Rio by sitting on his ass during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, soon the entire team with the exception of a handful of white players were doing likewise.
One of them was quarterback Derek Carr and there were ugly rumors that black players deliberately allowed for him to get injured as retaliation for not supporting their anti-Trump exhibitions.
Not only did Lynch earn a scathing Twitter blast from President Trump for standing for the Mexican national anthem during a game in Mexico City, but the team had multiple incidents where players – including Lynch – engaged in on-field thuggery.
But hey, $10 million a year will buy a lot of tolerance for bullshit and control over personnel ensures that Gruden can dump Lynch if he doesn’t conform.
But as with everything, there are now accusations that the Raiders organization was RACIST when it hired Gruden without bothering to first consider affirmative action coaching candidates under the Rooney Rule.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance is calling on 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 issued a statement Wednesday expressing concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates.
Before Gruden’s hiring was official, Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten told ESPN he trusted that Davis and McKenzie had followed the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate as part of an open process. Wooten, reached Wednesday night, referred questions to Mehri.
“Let’s get to the facts,” Mehri told ESPN. “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. 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.”
This inquisition is only more evidence that the NFL has laid down with wolves through their acceptance of the national anthem protests and now racial-politics is a part of the league’s DNA.
An African-American sportswriter for USA Today isn’t waiting for an investigation, he just wants severe penalties to be levied against the Raiders organization.
It seems pretty clear: The Raiders made a mockery of the Rooney Rule, and for that they should pay up — @JarrettBell says a $1 million fine, plus the loss of a first-rounder might not be enough. https://t.co/mVgXjsL7Es
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) January 11, 2018
One million dollars, plus the loss of a first-round draft pick.
That’s the type of penalty Roger Goodell needs to be ready to levy on Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis for violating the Rooney Rule in luring Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth.
OK, maybe that’s not harsh enough.
Davis, who pursued Coach Chucky for six years, admitted to reporters after officially announcing the triumphant return Tuesday that they reached an agreement in principle on Christmas Eve — a week before previous coach Jack Del Rio was dumped.
To “comply” with the Rooney Rule that mandates teams must interview at least one minority candidate for head coach openings, the Raiders interviewed their tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin — apparently after the deal was struck with Gruden.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA), which promotes and monitors minority hiring in the NFL, is pushing the league to launch an investigation that conclusively establishes the timeline.
“It has all the appearances of a violation,” Cyrus Mehri, general counsel for the FPA, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday night. “But like any case in America, you want to give people a chance to tell their side of the story.”
Now there needs to be a steep price to pay — especially if Goodell wants to maintain at least one shred of credibility attached to the NFL’s way of doing business.
What good is it to have a Rooney Rule — which has frequently come under attack from those suspecting that some interviews with minority candidates are not legitimate — without any teeth in enforcing that the spirit of the rule is upheld?
Goodell needs to bring the hammer and send a strong message that demonstrates the NFL is paying more than lip service to the notion of equal opportunity.
So this looms as Goodell’s first potential Rooney Rule discipline case, and I’m thinking he needs to operate in today’s dollars. The $1 million, plus draft pick penalty, would be in the ballpark of what Goodell levied on the New England Patriots for Deflategate. Nothing gets the wake-up call attention of NFL teams like forfeiting a premium pick. Besides, after committing $100 million to Chucky over 10 years, $1 million looks like a cost-of-living bonus.
Gruden was Davis’ man all along. I’m not suggesting Davis should not have gone after the charismatic coach who’s already revived the franchise once and certainly will energize the Raider Nation again. Yet there’s a way this could have still been accomplished to maintain the credibility of the Rooney Rule.
And here’s another issue: Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said that he — and not Davis — interviewed Johnson and Martin. That poses an imbalance with guidelines for adhering to the Rooney Rule that call for the interviews to be conducted on a similar level with the decision makers.
In other words, sham interviews.
As it stands now, the cost for bringing Gruden back isn’t quite complete.
Translation: Reparations bitches! Cough it up!