The NFL’s New Hiring Policies Hope to Improve Diversity


On Mar. 28, 2022, the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee was created to enforce new hiring policies for increasing diversity within the coaching staff. The league is mandated to hire women or people of minority backgrounds as offensive assistant coaches. In the past, concerns over the NFL’s lack of diversity have been brought up. For example, the ongoing Brian Flores lawsuit sheds new light on racism within the league by demonstrating the alleged unjust actions that occurred during his firing and hiring process. With the NFL displaying patterns of racism, the diversity committee could just be an empty gesture to appease public condemnation without substantial change in diversity numbers. 

The committee states, “The six-member committee will lend its expert, external perspective on industry best practices and will evaluate league and club diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies and initiatives, including all hiring processes, policies and procedures, with a primary focus on senior-level coach and front office personnel positions.” 

Out of 32 NFL teams, only 5 head coaches are black. In 2021, the NFL reached an all time high with 12 females on the coaching staff; but still no woman occupied the head coach position. Since 2003, the NFL’s so-called “Rooney Rule” has required the league to interview minority candidates for coaching positions. Despite its attempts to improve diversity, the rule received criticism because teams have the ability to conduct “sham interviews” with the sole purpose of satisfying the requirement. Still, the NFL has kept the rule, most recently including women in the interview requirements for head coach positions. 

Brian Flores, head coach of the Miami Dolphins for three years, was hired with the rule in mind. He was recently fired in January despite having back-to-back season wins. In February, Flores filed a lawsuit against three teams in the NFL –Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos– for racist treatment. It is suspected that the NFL’s creation of the diversity committee was stimulated by the ongoing suit. All three NFL teams have denied Flores’ claims, but Flores has multiple pieces of evidence pointing their way. Stephen Ross, the owner of the Dolphins, allegedly offered Flores $100,000 for every loss in order to finish last in the league, so that the team could secure the no.1 draft pick for the next season. If Flores had accepted the payment, Ross could’ve easily pinned the losses on Flores’ coaching ability, making the firing decision much more justificable. Flores also presents a text chain with his former boss Bill Belichick, head coach of the Patriots, where days before Flores’ interview with the Giants, Belichick congratulated Flores on receiving the job. The text reveals that Belichick meant to congratulate Brian Daboll instead. Flores claims that the Giants had already made their decision on hiring Daboll, a white coach, before even interviewing Flores. 

The Flores lawsuit was just another example of the NFL’s long standing reputation for its lack of diversity and racist mindset in the hiring process. With the creation of the committee ensuring positions for minority and female candidates, it seems bound to improve the league’s diversity numbers. However, it might still be a while until we see a female head coach in the NFL.