NFL commissioner addresses issues with diversity following Brian Flores lawsuit: ESPN

Flores' lawyers say Goodell's statement is "more of a public relations ploy."

February 5, 2022, 3:31 PM

Days after former Miami Dolphins Coach Brian Flores sued the NFL over allegations of discrimination, commissioner Roger Goodell told teams Saturday that the league's efforts to promote diversity among head coaches “have been unacceptable," ESPN reported.

Goodell sent a letter to NFL teams addressing Flores' suit and the allegations that the league and team owners have been sidelining Black candidates for coaching positions, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who tweeted out the letter.

The commissioner reiterated the league's earlier messages that it "adopted numerous policies and programs," to promote diversity, but acknowledged that there is still more work to be done.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the sidelines before the AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, Jan 30, 2022, Kansas City, Mo.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

"With respect to head coaches, the results have been unacceptable," Goodell wrote in the letter.

The commissioner hasn't commented on the letter.

Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis, Flores' attorneys, said in a statement that Goodell's letter was "on the surface, a positive first step, but we suspect that this is more of a public relations ploy than real commitment to change."

They added that Goodell hasn't reached out to them or their client to discuss his concerns.

Flores, 40, who was fired from the Miami Dolphins last month after back-to-back winning seasons, filed his suit on Monday and cited a recent experience he said he had as one of the examples of the league's discrimination against Black coaches.

Flores said he was offered an interview with the New York Giants for a head coaching position and texted with his mentor, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, about the upcoming meeting.

Belichick allegedly sent texts congratulating Flores on getting hired by the Giants before the interview took place, according to screenshots of the texts that were included in the lawsuit.

Belichick later allegedly texted back indicating that he'd made a mistake and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was actually getting the job -- three days before Flores' interview, according to the screenshots.

Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins takes the field during introductions prior to the game against the New England Patriots, Jan. 9, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Mark Brown/Getty Images

"There's a humiliation that came over me," Flores told ABC News' "Nightline." "Why wasn't I afforded the opportunity to truly interview and show what I can do? Because I am a good coach and I do relate to players and I know how to lead."

The NFL responded to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages and changes to ensure the hiring of more Black coaches, dismissing Flores' claims.

"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 in a statement Monday.

Goodell told the team owners that the league "understands the concerns of Coach Flores" and others and will be making some changes to address them. Specifically, the commissioner said the league will "reevaluate and examine" all policies related to diversity and inclusion and bring in outside experts to assist with the review.

The commissioner said the league will "also solicit input from current and former players, coaches and other authorities."

Flores' attorneys expressed skepticism in Goodell's promise.

"For too many years, the NFL has hid behind the cover of foundations that were supposed to protect the rights of Black players and coaches, all while letting systemic racial bias fester in its front offices. The NFL is now rolling out the same playbook yet again and that is precisely why this lawsuit was filed," the attorneys said in a statement.

ABC News' Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.

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