INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was on the defense during his state of the league address in front of the media during a pre-week Super Bowl LVI conversation.
The lengthy presentation, which was hosted by the NFL Network (on-air personality MJ Acosta-Ruiz did the honors), centered mainly on one topic, and that was the lawsuit by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, claiming discrimination and racial bias in his legal claim.
There were other items such as the latest bombshell allegations of sexual harassment swirling around the Washington Commanders that Goodell tried to address, but the issue of the day was the lack of Black head coaches in the National Football League. Ironically, this discussion between Goodell and reporters took place in the middle of Black History Month.
Flores dropped his lawsuit after being fired by the Dolphins and going through the interview process for other head coaching vacancies. Before the start of February, the NFL’s embarrassment of having one Black head coach out of a league that has 32 teams, got the attention of a lot of people.
And the fact that all of this has taken place right smack of the league’s Big Game, has made these omissions even more glaring.
The Houston Texans hiring of Lovie Smith now gives the NFL two Black head coaches with the Minnesota Vikings spot remaining open until Super Bowl LVI has been played. In a professional sports league that is predominantly African Americans, the lack of Black head coaches, the words of diversity and inclusion ring hollow at the moment.
The league had nine head coaching openings after the 2021 NFL regular season had concluded. Thus far, Smith is the only Black person to snag one of those gigs. Goodell said all the right things during his address, touting the league’s ongoing work of inclusion and diversity in other areas, but did admit that there is much work to be done in regards to the hiring and the retention of Black head coaches.
“I think that we’ve made a tremendous amount of a lot of progress in a lot of areas, but not at the head coach, and that is something that we have focused on to try to get the results that we would expect and we fell short by a longshot by us,” Goodell said in his opening remarks. ”
In addressing where the disparity lies that has affected Black candidates from being hired and also retained, Goodell said the process seems to be working, but the end results have not reflected that.
“Well, they [Black candidates] are getting into the room and they are getting the interviews,” Goodell said. In fact, they’re exceeding anything in the Rooney Rule as far as the interviews. What we want to try to see is the outcomes, right? We want to see Black head coaches in the NFL and coaches of people of color and eventually gender that we think is so important so it’s an inclusive process, and hopefully an inclusive outcome.”
“What we’re going to do is step back and look at everything that we’re doing today,” Goodell added. “We evaluate that, everything from looking at the Rooney Rule and seeing what changes should be made to that if any changes or should it be removed which some people [have] suggested. All of those things are part of that. We’re going to talk to other people, have independent people come in and look and help us evaluate it. But sometimes it’s hard to evaluate your own policies and procedures, and make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to create that opportunity for everybody.”
When asked if he himself bears some level of responsibility for the lack of Black head coaches in a league that he oversees as the commissioner, Goodell said he does shares some of the blame.
“Yes, I do,” Goodell replied. “I think we started off saying we were talking about the same subject last year,” Goodell said. “And I’ve said many times that as a league, I don’t think that there’s a subject we’ve discussed more frequently with ownership in the last four or five years. It has been at every league meeting except other than two. That is something that we all have to bear responsibility for, me as commissioner also. We need to make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to be more successful and more effective. So yes, I do bear that responsibility as well as all of our clubs.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”