Advocacy group urges Raiders to accept Rooney Rule fault

Updated January 12, 2018 - 9:57 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. — Civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri received a surprise phone call about a decade ago, he said this week.

It was from Al Davis.

Mehri, co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes diversity and equality of job opportunities for minorities in the NFL, recounted an hourlong conversation. During it, he said, Davis effectively demonstrated why he was regarded as more than mere owner of the Raiders. Davis, known as a champion for diversity, discussed the NFL’s history and importance of civil rights to the league and his franchise.

He praised the FPA’s push for more minorities to be considered for coaching opportunities.

“This was in his bones,” Mehri said. “It was genuine. It would be really unfortunate if they misstepped on this.”

Mehri is one of two lawyers who successfully petitioned the NFL on Wednesday to explore whether the Raiders violated the Rooney Rule when hiring Jon Gruden as coach. Since 2003, the rule has required teams to interview minority candidates before such openings are filled. Mehri is now urging the Raiders to either quickly clarify the situation or accept fault.

He added that there seems little to clarify.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, Al’s son, met with reporters Tuesday after Gruden’s introductory news conference. Davis described a Christmas Eve meeting in Philadelphia between him and Gruden in which Gruden intimated he was “all-in.” Davis added he wouldn’t have fired coach Jack Del Rio on Dec. 31 if he didn’t believe he could successfully end a six-year chase for Gruden.

“I think Mark would have a hard time saying what he said to those reporters was inaccurate,” Mehri said. “The most honorable thing is for Mark to say, ‘I messed up.’ That’s what I think. It’s a hard ask, but if you’re Al Davis, what do you tell Mark? That’s what a father probably would tell a son. Just own up to it.”

ESPN, Gruden’s employer at the time, reported Dec. 31 that Gruden would replace Del Rio. Then-Raiders tight ends coach Bobby Johnson and Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin interviewed for the position in the days that followed.

The Raiders would have adhered to the Rooney Rule, Mehri said, if Davis notified Gruden on Christmas Eve only that he would be given a chance to compete for the team’s head coach job.

Based on Davis’ depiction, that assurance appeared to be stronger than that.

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

This week, Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract.

“You can have a front-runner,” Mehri said. “Minority candidates have competed and succeeded when there’s a front-runner. … We’re OK with front-runners and being able to compete. But it has to be an open process. Right now, it looks like a closed process, and that’s why I want the league to take a look at the facts. …

“In my heart of hearts, I hope they did it in a way that didn’t outright violate the rule, and it was more the Raiders recognizing Gruden was going to compete. But if there was an understanding that he was coming to Oakland, then I think the league has got to (hit) him pretty hard.”

A Friday request to an NFL spokesman for confirmation was not returned. The Raiders were made aware of Mehri’s comments on Thursday but didn’t respond for comment.

Since the 2003 introduction of the Rooney Rule, the league has punished a team for failed compliance once.

That occurred in 2003 after then-Detroit Lions CEO Matt Millen hired coach Steve Mariucci. The hiring was announced in early February. In July, after a lengthy investigation, the NFL announced a $200,000 fine for Millen. Mehri said commissioner Paul Tagliabue also sent a stern letter to all 32 league owners, stressing the importance of the Rooney Rule and stating that the next violation would draw a $500,000 fine.

The Raiders have a storied history for their hiring practices.

Tom Flores became the first Hispanic-American quarterback in NFL history, the second Hispanic-American head coach in NFL history and the first Hispanic-American to win a Super Bowl.

In 1989, Art Shell became the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history. Eight years later, Amy Trask became the first female CEO in NFL history.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: Bryant and Roberts return to practice
Raiders beat writer Micheal Gehlken goes over how Martavis Bryant and Seth Roberts return to practice and how Jon Gruden is training quarterback Connor Cook.
Gruden Looks Towards End of Training Camp, LA Rams Game
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about the team's final full day of training camp as well as the team's upcoming preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Vegas Nation: Donald Penn Returns
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Michael Gehlken reports on Donald Penn's return to practice from Napa, CA on August 14, 2018.
Donald Penn Returns to Practice
Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn returns to practice for the first time in nearly eight months after an Lisfranc fracture in Dec. The veteran tackle speaks to the media what it's like being back and potentially moving to right tackle.
Vegas Nation: Conley Returns, Bryant Absent
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Gareon Conley returning to practice.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Stadium And Practice Facility Update
Vegas Nation Stadium Host Bill Bradley, Rick Velotta and Eli Segall go over the progress on the Raiders stadium and practice facility in Las Vegas.
Vegas Nation: Preseason Preview
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over what to expect from the Raiders first preseason game.
Vegas Nation: Day 2 of Joint Practice
Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano report from Napa, CA on the second day of joint practice between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions.
Sports Betting Spotlight: Oakland Raiders
Todd Dewey, Johnny Avello and Kelly Stewart go over the odds for the Oakland Raiders upcoming season.
Gruden Wraps Up Final Joint Practice with Lions
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks to the media about practicing with the Detroit Lions, how Martavis Bryant is doing in camp, and an update on Donald Penn.
Vegas Nation: Training Camp Joint Practice
Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano cover day one of the two day joint session between the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.
Raiders Host First Joint Practice with Lions
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. talk about what it was like practicing with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday.
Vegas Nation: Raiders preparing for joint practice with Lions
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken provides an update on Obi Melifonwu performance in practice as well as the Raiders preparation for the joint practice with the Detroit Lions starting Tuesday.
Vegas Nation: Day 7 Of Training Camp
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the seventh day of Raiders training camp.
Vegas Nation: Peyton Manning Visits Raiders
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over Raiders practice and Peyton Manning visiting the teams camp.
Raiders React to Fifth Day of Training Camp
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, safety Reggie Nelson and center Rodney Hudson respond to questions from the media on the team's fifth day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Oakland Raiders training camp Day 3
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the team's third day of training camp, discuss what Gareon Conley's injury, review the team's first day in pads and what the Raiders will look to do at running back.
Former Raiders' linebacker Villapiano discuss Raiders' move
Former Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano speaks with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney about the team's impending move to Las Vegas.
Vegas Nation: Oakland Raiders training camp Day 2
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the team's second day of training camp, discuss Gareon Conley missing sessions and what it'll be like when the team starts practicing with pads on Sunday.
Raiders Look Forward to First Practice with Pads on Sunday
Greg Olson, Kelechi Osemele and Doug Martin react to team's first practice with pads on Sunday
Vegas Nation: Olson believes Carr, QBs have developed "thick skin" under Gruden
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson explains how the Raiders quarterbacks have responded to Jon Gruden's tough coaching style.
Vegas Nation: Olson pleased with progress of rookie linemen Miller, Parker
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson describes what he has seen out of rookie offensive linemen Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker so far.
Raiders React To First Day Of Training Camp
Jon Gruden, Derek Carr and Kolton Miller react to the first day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Martin calls Raiders O-Line "the best" he's ran behind
Raiders running back Doug Martin speaks no how different it is running behind his new offensive line in Oakland
Vegas Nation: Raiders Training Camp Day 1
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Raiders first day of training camp.
Vegas Nation: Miller on Penn, Jackson helping him out
Raiders rookie tackle Kolton Miller talks about the veterans he has leaned on during the offseason
Vegas Nation: Miller happy about weight gain
Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller talks about his weight gain prior to training camp.
Vegas Nation: Carr says Kolton Miller is "ready"
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr shares his thoughts on Kolton Miller—compliments the rookie's physical progression during offseason.
Vegas Nation: Carr "confident" in executing Gruden's offense
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr details what it's like learning Jon Gruden's offense.
Vegas Nation: Gruden believes "competition" makes for an exciting training camp
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden discusses his goals for training camp.
Raiders BBQ
On Friday, July 20, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hosted — and paid for — a free barbecue for Raiders fans. Gruden teamed up with the Raiders and Ricky's Sports Theater and Grill in San Leandro, Calif. as a way to show thanks and gratitude for the support of the Raider Nation. Over 500 Raiders fans showed up to the event that had music, raffles, and appearances from Raiders alumni. This was the final event before the Raiders begin their training camp next week in Napa. Chris Booker Las Vegas Review-Journal
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like