Speed Reads

DEI in the NFL

NFL commissioner says league has fallen short on diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to all NFL teams Saturday saying that the league's progress on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion is "unacceptable," Reuters reported.

"Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL's values," Goodell wrote in the memo. "We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable. We will re-evaluate and examine all policies, guidelines and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusions."

According to the NFL's diversity guidelines, which it implemented in May of 2020 only days before the murder of George Floyd, the league now requires "clubs to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching openings and at least one minority candidate for any coordinator job." Previously, the "Rooney Rule" had stipulated that each team interview only one minority candidate for head coaching jobs and imposed no requirements for coordinator positions.

Despite these new guidelines, no progress has been made in diversifying the NFL's cadre of 32 head coaches. Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the only Black head coach in the league.

Goodell's memo was prompted by a lawsuit that former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed earlier this week. Flores alleges that he was fired on Jan. 10 after back-to-back winning seasons because he refused to throw games in order to secure better draft picks for the Dolphins, but he also said he hopes his lawsuit will "shine a light on the racial injustices that take place inside the NFL."

Goodell stated in his memo that, regardless of the outcome of Flores' lawsuit, the league "will not wait to reassess and modify our strategies to ensure that they are consistent with our values and longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion."