Goodell says diversity effort ‘unacceptable,’ after NFL claims Flores discrimination lawsuit ‘without merit’

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The National Football League (NFL) was blasted by its own commissioner, who stated that the league’s efforts to promote diversity in hiring have been inadequate, in the wake of a lawsuit being levied at the league that claims racial discrimination in hiring practices.

In statements given by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he asserted that the league has made “significant progress” in terms of rectifying discrimination, the employment process used by the NFL remains “unacceptable,” and that this discrimination is “contrary to the NFL’s values,” reported the Washington Examiner.

“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values. 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,” wrote Goodall in a memo to all 32 teams.

The teams, and the league itself, are named as defendants in the lawsuit brought by Brian Flores, former coach for the Miami Dolphins. In response, the league has promised to “understand the lived experiences of diverse members of the NFL family to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity and is treated with respect and dignity,” in a memo sent out by Goodell. “There is much work to do, and we will embrace this moment and seize the opportunity to become a stronger, more inclusive league,” the memo continued.

In response, the lawyers for Flores, Doug Wigdor and John Elefterakis, dismissed the memo as a “positive first step” but only “on the surface.” The two then expressed their concerns that the memo was “more of a public relations ploy than real commitment to change.”

“We would be pleased to talk to the Commissioner about real change, but unfortunately he has not reached out to use to engage in such a discussion. In fact, nobody from the NFL has reached out to us,” stated the lawyers.

The lawsuit alleges that Flores was passed up for promotion to a head coach position with the New York Giants due to racial discrimination. The lawsuit alleges that the position had already been given to Brian Daboll days before going through the formality of giving Flores an interview. In the complaint, it is noted that all 32 team owners are white, and have only one black head coach, whereas 70 percent of the players being black, and insists that this is part of a “disingenuous commitment to social equity,” in which the diversity policies are merely window dressing for show.

The complaint was filed with the Southern District of New York last week, and the amount of financial compensation being sought in damages is unspecified according to court documents.

In a statement that somewhat contradicts Goodell, the NFL declared that the claims were “without merit.”

“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,” the league said. “Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time.”


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