Civil rights leaders who met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today called for the League to establish specific recruiting and hiring procedures for executive and coaching positions, with meaningful consequences for teams that do not abide by the rules.
The Rooney Rule, a policy established in 2003 that requires teams to interview candidates of color for head coaching and senior football operation positions, must be replaced, the leaders said.
National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President and CEO Melanie Campbell,NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, and National African American Clergy Network co-convener Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner requested the meeting after former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores accused the NFL and three of its teams of racial discrimination in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed last week.
The National Action Network will be approaching states and municipalities to stop public funding and tax incentives to NFL stadiums until these firm commitments on timetables and goals are solid and public.
The leaders, who have long advocated for an investigation into the NFL’s hiring practices, said they welcomed Goodell’s announcement of an independent review of the NFL’s diversity, equity and inclusion policies and initiatives, and emphasized that the civil rights and racial justice community must be part of that review.
The influence of professional football on the national culture lends a heightened urgency to the diversity issue, the leaders said.
The leaders also reiterated their wholehearted support for Flores.
The leaders and Commissioner Goodell agreed to continue working together to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the NFL and its member teams.