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Black California legislators to NFL’s Roger Goodell: Talk to us about Brian Flores lawsuit

A group of Black California lawmakers raise concerns over former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores' allegations.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)
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To the editor: We, the members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, want to directly address NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to express our outrage over the claims of discrimination made by fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

California employment law is clear: Race, gender, identity and national origin are among the protected classes that cannot serve as the basis of discrimination. The allegation that the NFL engages in such unlawful and discriminatory practices is deeply troubling. Although California welcomes the Super Bowl to Inglewood, we must speak out against discrimination.

While Flores’ allegations remain to be adjudicated, the public data regarding coaching and front-office hiring practices reveal a concerning pattern.

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From 2012-21, there were 62 head coaching hires in the NFL. White men filled 82% of those positions. Of the 37 general manager hires during the same period, 84% were also white men. In 2021, there were only three Black head coaches, and by the season’s end, all but one had been relieved of their duties.

In 2003, the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule, requiring teams to interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching positions, eventually expanding the rule to other positions. Despite some gains at the outset, in 2021 there were the same number of Black head coaches that there were in 2003: three.

While complete work performance can be challenging to measure and evaluate in any field, research has demonstrated that race is not correlated to performance. A 2021 study by sports economists at Lancaster University in England found that Black assistant coaches are as successful as their white counterparts. Similarly, a 2019 study evaluating head coaching performance between 1985 and 2018 found no evidence that Black head coaches performed poorly compared to others.

Despite no measurable differences in success, non-white coaches experience significantly more time between jobs than white coaches, even in the Rooney Rule era. With data indicating discrimination, it is imperative that the California Legislative Black Caucus seek effective solutions to achieve what the Rooney Rule envisioned.

We request a meeting with NFL representatives to discuss remedies, even potentially legislative action, that will ensure adherence to fair employment practices.

At its core, California’s value system includes equality, inclusion and fairness. The members of the California Legislative Black Caucus invite commissioner Goodell to join us to collectively plot a course where coaching staff and front offices reflect the diversity of our great state and the NFL.

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State Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblyman Isaac G. Bryan (D-Baldwin Hills), Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), Assemblyman Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego)

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