Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL will re-examine policies regarding head-coach diversity in the league, saying its efforts have yielded “unacceptable” results.
In a memo sent to all 32 teams Saturday morning, he also said matters involving “the integrity of the game” must be addressed.
Goodell’s memo comes days after former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, charging an interview he had with the New York Giants was a “sham” intended to meet diversity hiring rules. Flores also alleged he had been offered money by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to intentionally lose games to secure a better draft position.
Both teams have denied the allegations.
Flores’ lawsuit got the attention of Goodell, however, even though a league statement said Tuesday that the NFL said the suit was “without merit.”
“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote. “We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable.”
After the January firings of Flores and David Culley with the Houston Texans, the NFL has one Black head coach – Mike Tomin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the nine head-coaching vacancies, five have been filled so far, all by white men.
Goodell said the league will examine existing policies and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusion and will hire outside experts to help in the review. Current and former players and coaches will be among those asked for input.
“Our goal is simple: make our efforts and those of the clubs more effective so that real and tangible results will be achieved,” Goodell said.
Goodell also said the league will examine “integrity” issues, without directly mentioning Flores’ pay-to-tank charges.
“These matters will be reviewed thoroughly and independently. We expect that these independent experts will receive full cooperation from everyone associated with the league or any member club as this work proceeds,” Goodell said.
Still, the commissioner conceded, the NFL has “much work to do.”
Attorneys for Flores responded to Goodell’s statement with skepticism.
“The statement made today by the Commissioner is, on the surface, a positive first step, but we suspect that this is more of a public relations ploy than real commitment to change,” Doug Wigdor and John Elefterakis said in a released statement. “For too many years, the NFL has hidden behind the cover of foundations that were supposed to protect the rights of Black players and coaches, all while letting systemic racial bias fester in its front offices. The NFL is now rolling out the same playbook yet again and that is precisely why this lawsuit was filed.”
They said Flores is willing to cooperate in any evaluation of league practices.
“We would be pleased to talk to the Commissioner about real change, but unfortunately he has not reached out to engage in such a discussion. In fact, nobody from the NFL has reached out to us,” the statement from the attorneys read.”
–Field Level Media