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Complaint Filed Against Redskins for Violation of Rooney Rule

The Fritz Pollard Alliance claims the Washington Redskins didn't notify the league of their interview with Rod Graves

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Post is reporting the the Fritz Pollard Alliance has sent a complaint to the NFL for the way the Redskins handled their GM search.  John Wooten claims that while the Redskins did get permission from the New York Jets to interview Rod Graves, they did not notify the league at the appropriate time.  Wooten is citing tampering rules in his complaint, and claims that the Redskins violated the spirit of the rule.

Graves was used to simply satisfy the Rooney Rule, and while he is a very qualified candidate for the position, he was never seriously considered.  McCloughan was the desired candidate for the job, but the Redskins needed the Graves interview in order to hire him.  Will the league rule against the Redskins, and if they do, what would be the punishment?  The Post article mentions draft picks that have been previously taken away for tampering violations, but those cases were not related to the Rooney Rule.  Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen was fined $200,000 in 2003 for the hiring process that led to Steve Mariucci being hired as the new head coach.  Roger Goodell has the power to fine a team/executive/owner up to $500,000 for a Rooney Rule violation.

Albert Breer reported last night that the Redskins interviewed Rod Graves on Monday.  Scot McCloughan reportedly met with Dan Syder yesterday for over 6 hours, and the deal was finalized with him sometime today as reported by Adam Schefter.

Here is an excerpt from Mark Maske's Washington Post article with the quotes from the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, John Wooten.  Stay tuned for more developments in this story.

John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said the Redskins did not notify the league as required before they interviewed New York Jets executive Rod Graves this week.

"We feel this was not a mistake," Wooten said. "We feel this was intentional. That's why we sent a complaint to the league. They did not file their request [to interview Graves] with the league. They did get permission from the Jets. But they're supposed to file their request with the league. That's how we can monitor what's going on."

Wooten said the Fritz Pollard Alliance did not tell the league what specific action it would like to see taken against the Redskins as punishment.

"We'll leave that up to them and their judgment," Wooten said.

Wooten also said: "We feel it violates the tampering rules and it was part of them trying to get around the Rooney Rule. I don't think it violated the letter of the [Rooney] rule. It violated the spirit of the rule. Rod Graves is top shelf. But it seems like they were just trying to satisfy the rule so they could hire Scot McCloughan. That's why we have the requests filed with the league, so we can monitor the process. That allows us to make sure you're doing things right and you're not just interviewing the guy down the hall."

[UPDATE #1: 3:54 PM 1/7/15] The NFL does not think Redskins violated the Rooney Rule

[UPDATE #2: 4:07 PM 1/7/15] Redskins Senior VP of Communications Tony Wyllie has addressed the complaint:

[UPDATE #3: 4:49 PM 1/7/15] The NFL's official statement on the issue:
A written statement issued by the league said: “Our office confirmed that the Redskins obtained verbal permission from the Jets in advance of interviewing Rod Graves for the general manager position and, therefore, we find no violation of the anti-tampering policy. We informed the Fritz Pollard Alliance that we will remind Washington and all of our teams of the expectation that our office will be notified in writing whenever permission to interview an employee of another club is sought.”