Cowboys owner Jerry Jones responds to Brian Flores' lawsuit vs. NFL: ‘We can do better’ – USA TODAY

Share Article

MOBILE, Ala. — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saw Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL and thought: We can be better.
The NFL, and its record on diversity practices in hiring, can be better.
“I can see it’s an area, one of many, that we can do better,” Jones said Wednesday from the hallway behind his stadium suite overlooking Senior Bowl practices. “The area has some good attention. This is obvious if you look through that that the league and coaches are trying to improve there.”
Flores, who is Black, was fired in January after three seasons as Dolphins head coach. He subsequently interviewed for head-coaching vacancies and alleges insincerity in interviews. In a 58-page lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Flores and his representation detailed extensive allegations of discriminatory practices, including what they consider sham interviews to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which in part requires teams to interview two external minority candidates for head-coaching positions. Flores interviewed for the New York Giants head-coaching vacancy in January; before his interview, Patriots coach Bill Belichick allegedly texted him by mistake that the Giants had settled on then-Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, per texts Flores shared.
Jones, who also serves as the Cowboys’ general manager, said he didn’t “have anything to say about how any other team goes about its interview or goes about its process” and could not speak to specific allegations against the Giants, Dolphins and Broncos. But as an owner in conversation with fellow owners, he’s aware of the dialogue.
“I think the fact that it’s an issue shows not only the league’s willingness to address and do better,” Jones said. “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 positive result for the league.”
OPINION:Brian Flores’ bombshell lawsuit against NFL is a long overdue move for Black coaches
MORE:Brian Flores’ lawsuit put NFL’s systemic racism against coaches on full display
Jones declined to suggest specific ways the league’s compliance with diversity mandates could improve. Roughly 70% of NFL players are Black, but just one of 32 (3.1%) head coaches is Black. In addition to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who is Black, the league has two other minority NFL head coaches: the Jets’ Robert Saleh and Washington Commanders’ Ron Rivera. In the Cowboys’ 62-year franchise history, all nine head coaches have been white. The team has not employed a coordinator of color in the last decade. But past coordinators of color have included defensive coordinator Brian Stewart (2007-08, under Wade Phillips) and offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon (2003-04, under Bill Parcells).
Jones believes the conversation surrounding equitable hiring will never end. He embraces that.
“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?”
Jones said he believes the league’s recent track record of head-coaching vacancies – nine of 32 this offseason – indicates the tall task franchises face when seeking the right leader. Achieving ultimate success is rare. Room for improvement, including cultivating and seriously considering a diverse pipeline of candidates, abounds.
“We’re going to do a good job on some (issues) and have work to do on others,” Jones said. “It will never stop. It will really never stop.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.


You might also like

Surviving 2nd wave of corona

Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona

‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort