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Goodell vows complete appraisal of NFL hiring practices

Updated February 9, 2022 - 4:06 pm

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday vowed to take no options off the table in evaluating the hiring practices of the league’s teams.

The remarks came during his annual Super Bowl week news conference and on the heels of a lawsuit filed by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleging racism in the league’s hiring practices.

“What we need to do is step back and say, we’re not doing a good enough job here,” Goodell said. “We need a better process and better outcomes.”

Goodell accepted some personal responsibility for the league not being where they need to be in that area.

“The answer is yes I do bear that responsibility as well as the member clubs,” he said. “I’ve said many times that as a league, I don’t think there’s a subject we’ve discussed more frequently over the last four or five years.”

Goodell said anything from compensation for diverse hires to removing the Rooney Rule to a complete overhaul of the system is on the table, pending outside analysis of the process.

Goodell said the league is simply not making enough progress in that area in spite of instituting and tweaking the Rooney Rule over the last 20 years to make sure minority candidates are interviewed for head coach, general manager and coordinator positions.

In spite of that, only five of the league’s 32 teams employ minority head coaches and, of them, only three are Black. That’s in a league in which 70 percent of the players are African-American.

“We’re not having the success we want with head coaches,” Goodell said of the recent hiring cylcle in which seven of nine openings were filled by white coaches. “How do we evolve that rule, or do we have to have a new rule? Do we need to find some other way of being able to achieve that outcome? I think we’re not going to rest until we find that, until we get those outcomes that are mandatory for us to move forward and have an inclusive league.”

Goodell and the NFL have consistently stressed the need to be more inclusive in its hiring practices. But the issue has taken on an elevated prominence after Flores filed a class-action suit against the NFL, the Dolphins, the New York Giants and Denver Broncos alleging racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process.

In the suit, Flores also alleges Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of trying to pay him off to purposely lose games during the 2019 season. The objective was to put the Dolphins in a better draft position to select their quarterback of their future.

On Wednesday, Goodell attempted to separate Flores’ pay-off allegations against Ross from his complaints about the NFL’s hiring practices. On the latter, Goodell agreed that the league must do better.

“We believe in diversity,” Goodell said. “We believe it has made us stronger. People who have come into the league who are diverse have been very successful and made us better, and we just have to do a better job.”

The problem is complex as the number of minority candidates being interviewed for positions of power continues to increase, in part because of the Rooney Rule and the organic way it’s led to more diverse candidates appearing in the coaching pipeline.

The issue is turning more of those interviews into actual hires.

“We need to find better solutions and better outcomes,” Goodell said. “Let’s find more effective policies. Let’s make sure everyone understands. Let’s make sure that we’re looking at diversity and incentivizing that for everybody in our building.”

Goodell added if there are cases of actual discrimination, the league will deal with them accordingly.

“We won’t tolerate racism,” Goodell said. “We won’t tolerate discrimination. If there are policies that we need to modify, we’re going to do that. If we’ve seen evidence of discrimination, we will deal with that in a very serious way that will reflect the fact that we won’t tolerate that.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter. Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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