Inside the NFL owners meeting: White coaches challenge owners on league’s diversity woes

One by one, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Frank Reich and Andy Reid addressed the NFL owners at this year’s annual league meeting, advocating for Black coaches on their staffs now and those they’ve crossed paths with during their lengthy careers.

They vouched for the abilities of these coaches who are routinely passed by for the NFL’s top jobs, praising their skills and leadership qualities.

These white head coaches, some of the most prominent in the game today, spoke of the influence Black coaches have had on them and in their locker rooms, trying to make owners recognize what they would find if they would only look beyond the color of these coaches’ skin.

Their passion was clear, as was their sense of urgency, with Carroll at one point essentially asking owners what was wrong with them.

“Maybe some people didn’t like what was said. When you open the floor, you get this type of honesty,” Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II told USA TODAY Sports.

“There were some things said that owners wouldn’t agree with.”

Is the NFL ready to address racial biases in leadership?(1:35)

USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour gives an inside look at diversity conversations that took place at the NFL owners meeting.

Conversations at the annual meeting, also known as the NFL owners meeting, rarely become public, and Rooney did not want to go into extensive detail because what’s said there is supposed to stay private. Carroll and Reid also declined to comment on what they said to owners.

But yet another hiring cycle had ended with the NFL no more diverse in its most high-profile positions than it was 20 years ago. Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores had sued the league and some of its teams for racial discrimination, accusing the NFL of lip service in its sincerity to providing opportunities for minority coaches. 

Relegated to old news (10/17_)

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