NFL insider: Brian Flores’ lawsuit shines bright light on lack of diversity in NFL head coaching hires – CBS Sports
The National Football League is proud of its policies ensuring a fair and equitable hiring process both at the league office and across its 32 individual clubs. The NFL has worked very hard to enhance and strengthen its policies regarding interviewing and hiring for top-level football positions and senior-level business positions. These are things that I know having covered race and the NFL closely for a decade, speaking as recently as three weeks ago to Black executives within the league and examining the league’s evolving policies.
Whether those efforts have led to success is debatable. At this moment in time, they appear to have led to some progress at the general manager rankings. They appear to have failed miserably at head coach. How one measures success across teams at other positions, or within the league office, determines whether you believe these policies are ultimately effective.
It’s the “lead a horse to water, can’t make him drink” adage. The league can’t force individual team owners — the overwhelming majority of them white — to actually value diversity and live it through their actions and hires. NFL EVP Troy Vincent can speak passionately about the work they’ve put in. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can hit his talking points incredibly well and take the issue of diversity seriously. Other league executives can radiate optimism that this year will be the year these measures work. Until we get to next year, which it then will be the year.
The NFL has created these policies, and for anyone to believe the NFL takes these policies seriously, the league must thoroughly investigate a credible claim that these policies were violated. If a prominent former head coach says one team violated the spirit of the Rooney Rule in 2019 and another created a sham interview just one week ago, the NFL has positioned itself — through decades of strong talk and policy changes — as an entity that must act quickly to review these claims and find out the truth for the sake of the league today and tomorrow.
But the NFL is also being sued. The league is a defendant in the lawsuit brought by Brian Flores Tuesday, along with the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and any or all of the other 29 teams that may ultimately be brought into this class-action lawsuit. The NFL has the right to defend itself against these claims, just as all other defendants do.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” said an NFL statement Tuesday night. “Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”
And there lies the rub. The NFL creates and proudly promotes policies, and then they threaten punishment if teams do not follow the policies. But when presented with a 58-page lawsuit filed Tuesday, which contains claims against three different NFL teams and alleged text messages with a head coach of a fourth team, the league states that these claims “are without merit.”
The Dolphins, according to a team statement, learned of the lawsuit through media reports. It appears the Giants and Broncos did, too. Flores has said he didn’t give a heads up to Belichick before including the alleged texts in the filing. For the NFL to truly believe Flores’ claims have no merit, the league must have conducted the …….