NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and a few team owners and executives met with civil rights leaders Thursday, who urged the league to make drastic changes to its hiring practices in order to improve diversity in leadership positions.
Goodell was joined on the video call by Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II, Atlanta Falcons owner and president Arthur Blank, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell, Baltimore Ravens executive vice president Ozzie Newsome, limited partner of the Houston Texans Javier Loya and other top NFL executives.
National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial told the group that the NFL’s focus on racial equity and social justice has yet to result in improved procedures. hiring the league’s head coaches.
There have been nine head coaching openings this offseason and two have gone to minorities: Mike McDaniel, who is biracial, and Lovie Smith, who is African American and replaced David Culley, who is also black. This brought the total of minority head coaches to five, three black.
McDaniel replaced Brian Flores, who named the league and three teams — the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants — in a class action lawsuit earlier this month alleging unfair hiring practices in the NFL .
“The NFL has produced an astonishing pool of black coaching talent that owners have routinely ignored when they’ve taken on the top job,” Morial said. “We are committed to working with owners and the league to bring the spirit of ‘Inspire Change’ to head coaching rosters.”
Morial was joined by National Action Network Founder and Chairman Reverend Al Sharpton, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President and CEO Melanie Campbell, and National African American Clergy Network co-host Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner.
Civil rights leaders challenged the league to set measurable goals for recruiting and hiring diverse candidates. They also called for the creation of an advisory commission that would make recommendations to the NFL and establish guidelines.
Thursday’s meeting was a continuation of a discussion that began last week, when civil rights leaders called on the NFL to replace the Rooney rule. It was established in 2003 and requires teams to interview candidates of color for head coaching and senior football operation positions.
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