MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – During “State of the League” on Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodel said the NFL had failed “by far” in securing head coaching opportunities for black and minority candidates.
“I don’t think you’re taking anything off the table until people have looked at this, helped us independently say, ‘Is there something wrong with our process? ‘ And if so, what can we do to solve this problem and fix it?” he said.
READ MORE: M-DCPS and BCPS could lose millions in funding for defying state ban on mask mandate
Goodell’s remarks follow a federal class action lawsuit filed last week by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores – which accuses the league, as well as three NFL franchises, of alleged racial discrimination.
Goodell said the league has made “tremendous progress” in pursuing diversity, but not at the head coaching position.
The commissioner said the league “has been really focused on trying to get the kind of results we expected and we haven’t come close to achieving that for us.”
Flores and other NFL critics question the effectiveness of the Rooney’s rulewhich was adopted in 2003 and at the time the mandated teams conduct at least one management interview with a minority candidate.
Goodell, who has led the NFL since 2006, regularly takes part in his “state of the league” address before the Super Bowl, but Wednesday won’t be the first time he’s had to speak about team hiring practices.
At last year’s press conference leading up to Super Bowl LV, Goodell noted that minority coaches had been selected for two of the seven available head coaching positions and said “that’s not what to do. what we expected, and this is not what we expect in the future”.
The league — which had just wrapped up a tumultuous 2020 season amid the Covid-19 pandemic — highlighted three franchises hiring black general managers as well as improved diversity among coordinator positions, according to NFL.com. Still, Goodell said, “We’re not happy, and we think we can do better and we will.”
A year earlier, Goodell had again raised concerns about the lack of minority head coaching hires.
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be at this level,” he said, according to the league’s website. “We have a lot of work that has gone into not just the Rooney rule, but our policies in general. It is clear that we have to change and do something different.
The Rooney Rule has been changed twice in the past two years, with the league stipulating that teams interview at least two outside minority candidates for open head coaching positions and at least one outside minority candidate for a coordinator position.
But now a league in which about 70% of players are black is coming under greater scrutiny for having just two black head coaches among its 32 franchises.
Flores lawsuit alleges wrongdoing by team
The lack of opportunities for black and minority head coach candidates is a key part of Flores’ class action lawsuit.
READ MORE: Official poster for this year’s Miami Carnival unveiled
Flores, who is black, was fired as head coach of the Dolphins last month as his team won eight of its last nine games this season and came close to making the playoffs. Flores had two winning seasons during his three years in Miami.
The 40-year-old said in his lawsuit that a subsequent interview with the New York Giants for their vacant head coaching job was conducted under dishonest circumstances, as Flores discovered three days before his interview that the Giants had already decided to hire. another coach.
Flores told CNN’s “New Day” he went through a “surge of emotions” upon learning he was attending what he called a “mock interview.”
Flores alleges in his lawsuit that the interview was a ruse so the Giants could “falsely demonstrate to League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the general public that he complied with the Rooney Rule.”
The NFL and the three franchises named in Flores’ costume — the Dolphins, Giants and Denver Broncos, who interviewed Flores in 2019 — all denied any wrongdoing.
Criticism rises against the League
The NFL will revise its diversity, equity and inclusion policies, Goodell said Saturday in a league-wide memo sent to club executives and presidents, calling out the lack of black head coaches of “unacceptable”.
No first-time black head coaches were hired in the past offseason cycle. Lovie Smith, who is black and was recently hired by the Houston Texans, already has head coaching experience with two other teams. The league’s other black head coach, Mike Tomlin, has coached the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2007.
There are two other non-black minority head coaches – Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders and Robert Saleh of the New York Jets. The Dolphins, who fired Flores late last season, signed Mike McDaniel, who is multiracial.
“We understand the concerns expressed by Coach Flores and others this week,” Goodell wrote. “As the legal process moves forward, we will not wait to reassess and modify our strategies to ensure they are consistent with our values and our long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Goodell met with civil rights leaders on Monday to hear their concerns about whether minority candidates receive fair consideration for the positions.
“However well-intentioned, the effect of the Rooney Rule has been for team decision makers to view interviewing candidates of color as an extraneous step, rather than an integral part of the hiring process,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said in a statement Monday.
“The Rooney Rule turned out to be something that owners used to look for in a deceptive way to look for true diversity,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, who was also in attendance on Monday. “We need to have firm targets and timetables.”
The NFL said in a statement after Monday’s meeting, “We had a productive and thoughtful conversation as the NFL shares the goal of ensuring everyone has equal access to opportunity. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.
NO MORE NEWS: Broward School Board to vote to hire Dr. Vickie Cartwright as superintendent
(©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company, contributed to this report.)