When the Oakland Raiders fired Jack Del Rio in December, everyone pretty much knew it meant they had Jon Gruden.
You typically don’t fire a head coach who is one year removed from a 12-4 season, has a $20 million buyout and just went through a season where his Pro-Bowl quarterback spent most of the year dealing with back issues.
But that’s what the Raiders did, because they had already landed Gruden before they cut Del Rio loose.
Thanks to the NFL’s Rooney rule, however, the Raiders had to interview minority candidates, despite already having Gruden on board. Oakland satisfied this rule by interviewing Raiders assistant Bobby Johnson and former Tennessee Vols quarterback, and current USC offensive coordinator, Tee Martin.
Now, Martin isn’t dumb. He, along with everyone else who closely follows football, knew he was only being interviewed so Oakland would be in compliance with the Rooney rule. But Martin aspires to be a head coach at some point in his career, so it was a tremendous opportunity for him to get some interview experience and possibly make a few connections that could benefit him down the road. I don’t blame him one bit for going along with the interview.
That’s where any mention of the interview should’ve stopped on the Raiders side of things.
Unfortunately, however, it didn’t.
In a Gruden profile piece for Sports Illustrated, Raiders owner Mark Davis made a comment that comes off as quite insulting to Martin.
Asked later if, lacking Gruden, he would’ve fired Del Rio, Davis says: “I don’t see how I could have. To spend $20 million, and on top of that hire Tee Martin? No.
Davis could’ve stopped that sentence after “I don’t see how I could have” and been just fine. His comment about Martin comes off as disparaging.
Martin was good enough for Oakland to interview him to satisfy a rule that was set forth by the NFL, but the idea of him actually landing the job was preposterous to Davis.
I’m not arguing that Martin deserved the job. He’s not ready yet (just like Lane Kiffin wasn’t ready for it in 2007). Davis isn’t wrong about that part. But he didn’t have to publicly make that comment about Martin.
Then again, it’s not like the Davis family is known for their tactful ways. Fortunately for Martin, most folks will look at Davis’ comments and shrug their shoulders.
But it doesn’t change that Martin, who by all accounts is a consummate professional, deserved better treatment.
Featured image via Knoxville News Sentinel