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Rev. Al Sharpton, Other Civil Right Leaders Call for Replacement of Rooney Rule

National Action Network (NAN) founder and president Rev. Al Sharpton was one of a number of Civil Rights leaders to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. The meeting was scheduled after former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the league and three teams—the Giants, Broncos and Dolphins—alleging discrimination.  

In the meeting, the leaders called on the NFL to replace the Rooney Rule, suggesting the NFL establish ”specific recruiting and hiring procedures for executive and coaching positions, with meaningful consequences for teams that do not abide by the rules,“ according to a joint-statement from the NAACP, National Urban League, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Action Network and National African American Clergy Network.

The Rooney Rule was established in 2003 and requires teams to interview candidates of color for head coaching, coordinator and senior football operation positions.

In a statement, Marc. H Morial, the National Urban League president and CEO said, “However well-intentioned, the effect of the Rooney Rule has been for team decision-makers to regard interviews with candidates of color as an extraneous step, rather than an integral part of the hiring process.“

Added Sharpton, in a statement: “The Rooney Rule has been proven to be something the owners used to deceptively appear to be seeking real diversity. We must have firm targets and timetables.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the meeting, which was held virtually, was “a productive and thoughtful conversation as the NFL shares the goal of ensuring that everyone has equitable access to opportunity. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.“

The leaders said that they agreed with Goodell to continue “working together to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the NFL and its member teams.“

On Monday, the Texans hired Lovie Smith as their next coach. He joins Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, Ron Rivera of the Commanders, Robert Saleh of the Jets and Mike McDaniel, who was hired this week by the Dolphins as the only minority head coaches in the league.

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