USA Today wants Raiders fined $1 million for hiring a white head coach

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday January 15th, 2018

Even though they went through the NFL's mandatory, insulting charade of pretending to consider minority candidates when everyone knew they had already made their choice.

This is one of those things where I have to say in all honesty, because I'm not black, I think I know how this business would make me feel, but I can't say for sure so if you're black I want to hear from you on it. I think, it this sort of thing was applied to me, I'd find it insulting and condescending even though they claim it's to benefit me. That's what I think.

The NFL's so-called Rooney Rule says that any time an NFL team has an opening for the position of head coach, they must interview at least one minority candidate for the position. It sounds like it would benefit minorities until you think about it for maybe three seconds, which we'll get into after the excerpt below.

It also creates situations like this one, in which everyone knew who the Oakland Raiders wanted as their coach, and everyone knew the perfectly legitimate reasons they wanted that person . . . but according to USA Today, the Raiders were still racist for hiring him:

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.”

Davis’ own words seemingly confirmed what was widely speculated, that the Raiders made a mockery of the Rooney Rule.

The Rooney Rule creates ridiculous situations like this. The Raiders wanted to bring back their former head coach Jon Gruden because, ever since Gruden left coaching in 2007 he's been one of the most sought-after men by teams looking for a coach. He's won a Super Bowl. He's got a history with the Raiders. And he's just the kind of marquee name who will help them market the team when they move in two years to Las Vegas - at least if things go according to plan.

But the Raiders had to comply with the Rooney Rule, so they did quickie interviews with two assistants that everyone - probably including the assistants - knew they had no intention of hiring. The fact that these interviews happened at all is a travesty, and not because either Johson or Martin couldn't necessarily be a good head coach. But when you already know who you want, and you make these men go through this charade just to satisfy some idiotic prove-you're-not-racist exercise, you're disrespecting both the interviewees and the process of choosing a coach.

I've seen this happen before. Baseball has no Rooney Rule per se, but the commissioner's office wants teams to make a show of considering minority candidates when they have openings. Twelve years ago when the Detroit Tigers fired manager Alan Trammell, everyone knew that they wanted to hire Jim Leyland to succeed him. In fact, I think the whole reason Trammell was fired was because the Tigers hoped Leyland would take the job.

But in order to deflect charges of racism, the Tigers did quickie interviews with coaches Bruce Fields and Juan Samuel, who were members of Trammell's outgoing staff and had no chance of being retained. There, we interviewed two minorities like you wanted. Now we can finalize the deal with the manager we already knew we were going to hire.

This is a joke.

The fact of the matter is you don't always need to interview multiple candidates when you fill a job. Sometimes you know exactly who you want, and you don't have to look around. You just go get that person if you can. And another fact of the matter is that it's not racist to know who you want simply because the person you want happens to not be a minority.

Also, what the Rooney Rule assumes is that owners are too racist to be willing to interview minority candidates unless the league office forces them to do so. If you were a minority, would you want to work for a man who disrespected and disliked you because of the color of your skin, and only interviewed you to satisfy a quota? Why would you even sit through the interview if you thought that was the case? If that owner is really a racist, then you have no shot at the job. And if he's not a racist, then he doesn't need to be forced to consider you if you're a good candidate.

None of this makes any sense. And if the Raiders had already chosen Jon Gruden before they did their Rooney Rule interviews, that's not because the Raiders are racist. It's because the Rooney Rule is stupid, and directly leads to embarrassing and insulting situations like this.

Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!