The NFL currently has one Black head coach and now faces a lawsuit from Brian Flores alleging racist hiring practices. The former Dolphins head coach sued the NFL, the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ initial reaction to the lawsuit was: We can be better.
“I can see it’s an area, one of many, that we can do better,” Jones told Jori Epstein on Wednesday from the Senior Bowl. “The area has some good attention. This is obvious if you look through that that the league and coaches are trying to improve there.”
Jones said he didn’t “have anything to say about how any other team goes about its interview or goes about its process.” He would not comment specifically about the allegations against the Giants, Dolphins and Broncos.
“I think the fact that it’s an issue shows not only the league’s willingness to address and do better,” Jones told Epstein. “I think the fact that it’s being discussed as to how the Rooney Rule or what drives the Rooney Rule could be better. In the case of coach Flores’ complaint, he’s saying it could be better and the processes create a positive result for the league.”
The Cowboys’ track record could be better.
They have never employed a Black head coach. The Cowboys have had minority coordinators in defensive coordinator Brian Stewart (2007-08, under Wade Phillips) and offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon (2003-04, under Bill Parcells). Kris Richard also called the defensive plays during the 2019 season as passing game coordinator under defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys also have played a part in the Rooney Rule’s expansion.
In 2003, the Cowboys knew they were going to hire Bill Parcells but had to comply with the Rooney Rule first. So they interviewed Dennis Green by phone, prompting the league to tweak the Rooney Rule to require the interviews to be conducted in person. Before the Cowboys removed the interim tag from Jason Garrett’s name in 2011, they complied with the Rooney Rule with an in-house interview with then receivers coach Ray Sherman. The league since has expanded the rule further to require interviews with two external minority candidates, and at least one in-person.
“We’re a league of many boxes, of all kinds, in many, many areas,” Jones said. “I never dreamed we could check as many boxes as we can check. But the more we become substantive – and we’re a lot more substantive as a league and as a sport than we ever were when I got involved 30-something years ago – and we’re more pertinent and more germane than we were 10 years ago. The more that happens, the more boxes we’re going to have come up that we need to check.
“As long as this league is continuing to be the influence that we are, by the interest in the game, by continuing to try to improve over time, the list of boxes we’ll need to address will get bigger. And we’ll have to spend more time checking more boxes. But I welcome that. How would you like for nobody to be interested and nobody to even look at it or have boxes to check?”