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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his annual Super Bowl news conference said he is “not satisfied” with the current rate of hiring more minority head coaching candidates but was happy to see progress among the general manager ranks.
“It wasn't what we expected, and it’s not what we expect going forward,” Goodell said.
In a 47-minute news conference, Goodell detailed his thoughts on the hiring cycle, as well as finishing the season amid the coronavirus pandemic and on preparations for the 2021 season..
Only two of the seven available coaching vacancies were filled with a non-white candidate — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh, a Muslim American of Lebanese descent, and Houston Texans coach David Culley, who is Black.
This offseason, the NFL amended its Rooney Rule, requiring clubs to interview two minority candidates instead of one. More attention shifted toward the lack of diversity among coaches amid a national reckoning on race last summer after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. But candidates whom many expected to receive jobs, including Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, did not make it past the interview phase with several teams.
Goodell said more discussions need to be had with individual candidates and with owners about what went right and what needs to be improved.
“They’re not the outcomes we wanted, and we’re committed more than ever to make sure we do that,” Goodell said. “We want it to be a natural process. We want it to be a process that is what we believe in diversity is what makes us better, ultimately.”
Goodell praised the hiring of three new Black general managers — the Atlanta Falcons’ Terry Fontenot, the Detroit Lions’ Brad Holmes and Washington’s Martin Mayhew — saying “they’re positives to build” on. He also recognized players' and franchises’ renewed attention to social justice efforts.
Goodell said it is too early to predict how next season will look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The commissioner said some aspects of this season, including virtual instruction, may remain in 2021.
The league completed all 256 games and the playoffs without any cancellations, though games were shuffled amid coronavirus outbreaks with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. Goodell cited all of the teams abiding by the protocols, which included mask wearing and social distancing, as reasons for finishing the season.
“The protocols are simple, but they are very difficult to execute on,” Goodell said.
Goodell said he is unsure how the environment for Super Bowl LVI next year in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium will look, but he is hopeful more fans will be in attendance.
“I know this, we have learned to operate in a very difficult environment, we found solutions and we will do it again,” he said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.