Commissioner Roger Goodell says NFL 'fell short' in hiring of minority head coaches

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the NFL "fell short" in terms of increasing the number of minority head coaches this offseason and that he has no solutions for the league's hiring practices.

The NFL continues to have a total of five minority head coaches after two were fired and two were hired this offseason. Reiterating that he has invited "outside experts" to consult on possible ways forward, Goodell said every option will be on the table, including the elimination and replacement of the league's Rooney Rule, which legislates diverse interview policies but has not had the desired impact on hiring.

"We believe in diversity," Goodell said during the news conference outside SoFi Stadium, site of Super Bowl LVI. "We believe it has made us stronger. People who have come into the league who are diverse have been very successful and made us better, and we just have to do a better job. ... Is there another thing that we can do to make sure that we're attracting the best talent and making our league more inclusive? If I had the answer right now, I would give it to you. I would have implemented it.

"I think we have to continue to look and find and step back and say, 'We're not doing a good enough job here.' We need to find better solutions and better outcomes. Let's find more effective policies. Let's make sure everyone understands. Let's make sure that we're looking at diversity and incentivizing that for everybody in our building.

"... We're not having the success we want with head coaches. How do we evolve that rule, or do we have to have a new rule? Do we need to find some other way of being able to achieve that outcome? I think we're not going to rest until we find that, until we get those outcomes that are mandatory for us to move forward and have an inclusive league."

The issue took on a new level of severity last week when former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the league and some of its teams, alleging violations of civil and human rights laws and citing examples of "sham interviews" used to satisfy elements of the Rooney Rule.

The league believes the legal claims are "without merit," but Goodell reiterated that the allegations will be investigated to determine whether league policies were violated.

"We won't tolerate racism," Goodell said. "We won't tolerate discrimination. If there are policies that we need to modify, we're going to do that. If we've seen evidence of discrimination, we will deal with that in a very serious way that will reflect the fact that we won't tolerate that."

The 2022 hiring cycle resulted in Lovie Smith (Houston Texans) and Mike McDaniel (Dolphins) joining the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, Washington Commanders' Ron Rivera and the New York Jets' Robert Saleh as the league's only minority head coaches.

Flores also said in the lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss the team suffered during the 2019 season.

That claim and the others were "very disturbing," Goodell said. The league is investigating, and Goodell said: "If there are violations, they won't be tolerated. We'll deal with it very seriously."

Asked whether the NFL had the authority to force Ross, or any other owner, to sell a franchise, Goodell said: "I do believe that the clubs have the authority to remove an owner from the league. It's a league vote, I believe."

One NFL team is already on the market. The Denver Broncos announced last month that they were for sale, with an estimated selling price of at least $4 billion. Goodell acknowledged that the NFL has been actively searching for diverse ownership candidates and said he has personally met with businessman Byron Allen, who is Black, during the recruiting process before the Broncos went on the market.

Goodell said Allen is not the only diverse candidate who has expressed interest in buying the Broncos.

"We would love to see a diverse owner of the team," Goodell said. "Whether that's a person of color, a female or a Black man, we think that would be a really positive step forward, and it's something we've encouraged -- and one of the reasons we've reached out to find candidates to do that."

Goodell spent more than 45 minutes addressing questions related to Flores' lawsuit as well as a new investigation into allegations of sexual harassment involving the Washington Commanders, most recently against owner Daniel Snyder.

Goodell said the league took over the team's investigation into the allegations because "I can't see how a team can hold an investigation into itself."

In other NFL news:

* The league will play regular-season games in Munich and Mexico City during the 2022 season. The league's new international agreement calls for a total of four games in Germany through 2025, two of which will be played at Frankfurt Stadium. The game at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium will be in November 2022, Goodell said.

* Goodell confirmed that the league's security staff was informed just before kickoff of last Sunday's Pro Bowl that Las Vegas police wanted to speak with New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara about an incident that had occurred the night before. Kamara played in the game and was arrested afterward on a battery charge.