INGLEWOOD, Calif. (Reuters) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday said the league is falling short in its efforts to create greater racial diversity among its coaching ranks and that he bears responsibility for the failure.
Goodell’s comments come after former Miami coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed a lawsuit against the league alleging discrimination against Black candidates for top level coaching and management jobs.
Without getting into the details of Flores lawsuit, Goodell said everything was on the table to address the issue of diversity.
Of the league’s 32 teams, only three will have a Black head coaches next season despite Black players making up 70% of team rosters. There are no Black team owners.
“We have made a tremendous amount of progress in a lot of areas but not at the head coach,” Goodell said at his traditional Wednesday news conference before Super Bowl Sunday.
“That is something we really focused on to try to get the kind of results that we would expect and we fell short of the by a long shot.”
Eight head coaching positions were filled this year, with Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith being the only two minorities hired.
Goodell said “all options are on the table” to address the issue, including an overhaul of the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching jobs.
Flores and others have said the rule leads to “sham interviews”.
Goodell said minority candidates are getting into the interview room at a higher rate than required under the rule but that it is still not leading to the desired outcome.
“We want to see Black head coaches in the NFL, coaches that are people of colour, and eventually gender,” he said.
“So what we’re going to do is step back and look at everything we’re doing to date and re-evaluating that.”
Asked if he took responsibility for the lack of progress on hiring given his 15-year tenure as commissioner, Goodell said he did.
“I do bear that responsibility as does all our clubs.”
Asked about the explosive claim in Flores’ lawsuit that he was offered money by Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross to lose games in order to get higher draft picks, Goodell said he found the allegations disturbing.
Flores has said his refusal to do so led to his firing.
“Integrity of the game is obviously an important element… we are going to look into that and we will make sure that if there were violations, that they won’t be tolerated,” Goodell added.
(This story has been refiled to fix typo in story identifier, no change to text)
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge)