NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with a contingent of civil rights leaders Monday to discuss potentially replacing the Rooney Rule in the aftermath of Brian Flores’ lawsuit.
In addition to the group seeking new procedures for hiring coaches and executives, they are also asking for meaning consequences for teams that circumvent them.
“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,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “The gravity of the situation is long past the crisis point.”
The league currently has three coaches of color following the hiring of Lovie Smith by the Houston Texans and Mike McDaniel by the Miami Dolphins on Monday. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was the league’s lone Black coach throughout much of the recent hiring cycle.
“The Rooney Rule has been proven to be something the owners used to deceptively appear to be seeking real diversity,” National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton said. “We must have firm targets and timetables.”
League spokesman Brian McCarthy described the meeting as “productive and thoughtful,” and added that the sides are looking forward to continued discussions in the future.
Established in 2003, the league adopted amendments to the Rooney Rule during the 2020 offseason requiring teams to interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching vacancies, one for open coordinator jobs.