WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden called out the lack of Black head coaches in the NFL in an interview that aired during the Super Bowl, saying having diverse leaders in the league is a requirement of "generic decency."
As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed out, Biden said in an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, "they haven't lived up to what they committed to and lived up to being open about hiring more minorities to run teams."
"The whole idea that a league that is made up of so many athletes of color, as well as so diverse, that there’s not enough African American qualified coaches 'to manage these NFL teams,' it just seems to me that it’s a standard that they'd want to live up to," he said. "It’s not a requirement of law, but it’s a requirement, I think, of just some generic decency.”
Diversity in the NFL's coaching roles has long been criticized, particularly in a league made up of mostly minority players. Last year, about 71 percent of NFL players were people of color and only a quarter were white, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The races of the other 4 percent were unknown.
Only three people of color have head coaching jobs in the league, in which white men hold the majority of the roles.
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL this month alleging racial discrimination in the league's hiring practices.
In 2020, the NFL expanded its “Rooney Rule,” aimed at getting more people of color in the coaching ranks, to require clubs to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach vacancies.
In the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, Flores, who is Black, told a story about how he sat through a job interview for a job he knew he wasn’t going to get simply because the team was required to interview minority candidates as part of the Rooney Rule.
Holt asked Biden whether he thinks the NFL, because of its broad influence, should be held to a higher standard when it comes to diversity issues. "I think it should be held to a reasonable standard," Biden said.
Biden made similar comments about racial equality in the league during last year's Super Bowl interview with Westwood One Sports.
Goodell acknowledged last week at a news conference on the state of the league that the NFL has to do better in its hiring of Black and minority coaches.
“We won’t tolerate racism. We won’t tolerate discrimination,” Goodell said. “I found all of the allegations, whether they were based on racism or discrimination or the integrity of our game, all of those to me were very disturbing. They are very serious matters to us on all levels, and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them.”