NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with civil rights leaders on Monday to address concerns over the league’s failure to hire Black coaches, CNN reports.
The meeting was called after former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the league along with three other franchises for alleged racial discrimination last week.
In the suit, Flores claims that he found out three days before his interview with the Giants that the team had already hired another candidate.
Flores was terminated from the Dolphins last month although the team won eight of their last nine games and almost made the playoffs.
Participants in Monday’s meeting included National Action Network founder the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, and National African American Clergy Network co-convener Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner. Also, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President and CEO Melanie Campbell were in attendance.
The civil rights leaders urged Goodell to replace the “Rooney Rule,” which mandates teams to interview at least two external minorities for coaching, general manager, and executive positions.
“However well-intentioned, the effect of the Rooney Rule has been for team decision-makers to regard interviews with candidates of color as an extraneous step, rather than an integral part of the hiring process,” Morial said Monday in a statement.
“The Rooney Rule has been proven to be something the owners used to deceptively appear to be seeking real diversity,” Sharpton added. “We must have firm targets and timetables.”
In a league-wide memo that was sent to club executives and presidents on Saturday, Goodell said the league will review its diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, calling the lack of Black head coaches “unacceptable.”
Lovie Smith, who was hired as the Houston Texans head coach, joins the Dolphins Mike McDaniel, Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders, Robert Saleh of the New York Jets, and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburg Steelers as the only non-white head coaches in the NFL.