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NFL Evaluates Rooney Rule With Teams Criticized on Diversity (1)

Feb. 9, 2022, 10:46 PM

The National Football League is evaluating a policy that requires teams to interview minorities for top jobs and wants to make it easier for Black people to become owners after criticism that the organization doesn’t do enough for people of color.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the league must listen to and learn from Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who has accused the NFL of pervasive racial bias and failing to live up to its so-called Rooney Rule. The league wants to see more Black coaches and must do more to diversify the entire organization, Goodell said in a press conference.

Of the nine head coach vacancies at the end of the regular season, only two were filled by minorities -- the Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel and Lovie Smith was hired by the Texans. Including the new hires, five head coaches among the 32 teams are people of color.

While the NFL has been bedeviled by questions about race for years, the bombshell lawsuit filed this month by Flores, who is Black, has ignited a more urgent call for change. Goodell said the league is looking to bring in outside experts for an independent review in order to better diversify the coach-hiring process.

“We won’t tolerate discrimination,” he said. “If there are policies that we need to modify, we’re going to do that.”

Goodell was pressed on why more Black people aren’t being hired for top jobs if they are being interviewed in record numbers. He said everything is on the table as the league evaluates its hiring processes, including the Rooney Rule.

Read more: Byron Allen says he’s preparing a bid for the NFL’s Broncos

On the team-ownership front, Goodell said he has talked with Entertainment Studios Inc. founder Byron Allen about the possibility of buying the Denver Broncos.

“We have met with Byron a couple of times,” Goodell said, nothing that Allen isn’t the only Black individual who is interested in buying an NFL team. Goodell said the league wants to make it easier to enable Black ownership. The NFL requires the principal franchise owner to have a stake of at least 30%, which in many cases requires financing.

“We have worked hard to make sure we have as many candidates possible and put them in a position to succeed,” he said.

(Updates with Goodell comments starting in sixth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Scott Moritz in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Lucas Shaw at

Catherine Larkin, Rob Golum

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