Civil rights leaders try to end Rooney rule

PITTSBURGH — A civil rights group has met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in hopes of scrapping the NFL’s Rooney Rule, put in place in 2003 by late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney .

President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc H. Morial, Founder and President of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson and co-organizer of the National African American Clergy Network Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner called the meeting in response to Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL.

“However well-intentioned, the effect of the Rooney Rule has been for team decision makers to view interviewing candidates of color as an extraneous step, rather than an integral part of the hiring process,” said Morial, noting that the NFL currently has only one black head coach, two less than when the rule was established. “The gravity of the situation has long since passed the point of crisis.”

“The Rooney Rule turned out to be something that owners used to look for in a deceptive way to look for true diversity,” Sharpton said. “We need to have firm targets and timetables.”

Sharpton also said he has begun communications with states and municipalities to halt public funding and tax incentives to NFL stadiums until those changes are confirmed.

“NAN has also started talking to members of Congress about congressional hearings since public funds are being used to support this biased enterprise,” Sharpton said. “Finally, we will go to major advertisers to tell them that they cannot continue to use our dollars in this unacceptable economic arrangement.”

The band were strong supporters of Flores in the lawsuit. The former Dolphins head coach claims his interview with the New York Giants was a “sham” after he already knew they were going to sign Brian Daboll. He filed a 58-page lawsuit against the league, which included teams such as the Giants, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins.

“As the NFL has begun to make strides in social justice and racial equity, it’s clear that voices of color aren’t being fully heard in executive suites,” Sharpton said. “Good intentions are not enough.”

Goodell and the group have agreed to continue working for diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the NFL.

“We agree that the trial of Coach Flores presents the League with an opportunity to commit to substantial change and we will do everything in our power to ensure this opportunity is not wasted,” Williams said. -Skinning.

Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a statement on the Rooney rule following Flores’ lawsuit, acknowledging the subtle progress in head coaching hires.

“While I recognize that we have not seen progress in the ranks of head coaches, we have seen a marked improvement in the hiring of women and minorities in other key leadership roles such as coordinator, general manager positions and front office positions both in and out of football operations,” Rooney said. “I believe this progress has been achieved through the implementation of many of the improved policies which have recently been adopted.

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