Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Civil rights leaders call for replacement of Rooney Rule during meeting with NFL Commissioner Goodell on racial discrimination accusations

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.

“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,” Morial said, noting that the NFL currently has only one Black head coach, two fewer than when the Rule was established. “The gravity of the situation is long past the crisis point.”


(Johnny Williams / Unsplash)

“The Rooney Rule has been proven to be something the owners used to deceptively appear to be seeking real diversity,” Sharpton said. “We must have firm targets and timetables.”
Sharpton said 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.

“NAN also has begun talking to members of Congress about Congressional hearings since public funds are being used to uphold this biased enterprise,” Sharpton said. “Lastly, we will be going to major advertisers telling them they cannot continue to use our dollars in this unacceptable economic arrangement.”

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.

“It’s simply not enough for the League to declare its good intentions,” Johnson said. “This is a long-standing crisis that must be confronted with diligence and rigor.”

The influence of professional football on the national culture lends a heightened urgency to the diversity issue, the leaders said.

“While the NFL has begun making strides with regard to social justice and racial equity, it’s clear that voices of color are not being entirely heard in the executive suites,” Sharpton said. “Good intentions are not enough.”

The leaders also reiterated their wholehearted support for Flores.

“Coach Flores has taken a principled stand for justice, at no small risk to himself and to his career,” Campbell said. “He has risen to meet a crucial moment in history.”

Williams-Skinner added, “We agree that Coach Flores’ lawsuit presents the League with an opportunity to engage in substantive change and we will do everything in our power to make sure that opportunity is not squandered.”

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.

SCLC calls for the nation to support NFL Coach Brian Flores and other victims of racism,
discrimination and injustices in other arenas

ATLANTA – Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued the following statement today calling for Americans to support NFL Coach Brian Flores and other victims of racism and discrimination in all arenas.

“{The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the legendary civil rights organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stands with Miami Dolphins’ Coach Brian Flores who has exposed racism and discrimination in the National Football League.

We are calling for our leaders in all industries and the American people to stand with Coach Flores and other former coaches and leaders in the NFL, who have not only called for an end to racism and discrimination in the NFL but in America, because of as Coach Flores has clearly stated, this is bigger than football.

And the SCLC agrees.

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Since the SCLC was established in 1957, the organization remains on the frontlines fighting to end racism, discrimination and other injustices every day in all arenas.

Racism is embedded in the American fabric. It has been with us since the beginning of America. It is a disease. It is in the American DNA, and it spreads just like Covid-19.

Unless we take the same measures to weed out racism as we are taking to eradicate our nation from the deadly coronavirus, America will never reach its ultimate greatest.

In a few days, more than one hundred million people of all races, ethnicities and religions will tune in for the NFL’s Super Bowl, which is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and a week later, the National Basketball League’s All-Star Game.

This is the opportune moment for good-hearted people in America and around the globe to support men and women in all industries who are facing racism and discrimination, because as Dr. King said those who accept evil without protesting it are really cooperating with it.

We cannot go backward America. Our greatest moments for this nation lie ahead of us. It is time for all of us to have a seat at the table. Business as usual is dead.

We are in a new normal. It is time to share in America’s prosperity and redistribute wealth, so let us embrace it.



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