Fritz Pollard Alliance trusts Raiders interviewed minority candidates

Jan 3, 2018 - 3:55 PM The Fritz Pollard Alliance downplayed concerns over the Oakland Raiders' potentially side-stepping the Rooney Rule amid reports that Jon Gruden is expected to be the team's next coach.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance has promoted equal opportunities for minorities in NFL hiring since its founding in 2003.

"I would trust the judgment and integrity of (Raiders owner) Mark Davis and (general manager) Reggie McKenzie to the point that they have already spoken to minority candidates who could be available veteran coaches, just like Jon Gruden is a veteran ex-coach," Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten told ESPN on Tuesday.

Wooten noted the Raiders' history under late owner Al Davis and Mark Davis in hiring minority candidates, including making Art Shell the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history in 1989. Shell returned for a second stint with the team in 2006.

Tom Flores was the first Hispanic coach to win a Super Bowl, while the Raiders also hired Hue Jackson as coach in 2011 and currently employs McKenzie.

Several news outlets have reported that Gruden will be the Raiders' next coach after Jack Del Rio was fired on Sunday following a six-win season.

However, there was not any solid evidence that Gruden, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, would be interested in the position until a report by Jerry McDonald from the Bay Area News Group confirmed it.

"My understanding is they're interviewing candidates this week and they're going to let everybody know sometime early next week or whenever they make their decision," Gruden said, per the Bay Area News Group. "Well, I think I am being considered, yes. I hope I'm a candidate."

Although Gruden is coy, his confirmation that he is interested in the opening provides more evidence that he will indeed be Oakland's next coach and an announcement could come soon.

Gruden will continue in his role as an ESPN analyst for Saturday's wild-card game between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.

Gruden was the Raiders' head coach from 1998 through 2001, and then was Tampa Bay's head coach from 2002 through 2008. The Raiders lost in the AFC Championship Game in his final two seasons in Oakland, and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in his first season with Tampa Bay.

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