Questions barely hit on the big game at the NFL commissioner's traditional pre-Super Bowl press conference on Wednesday. Instead, questions mainly focused on multiple problems plaguing the league off the field.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faced several questions regarding a lawsuit filed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, which alleges that Black coaches in the league are being chronically ignored for top jobs.
Goodell defended his 15-year record when asked if he bears responsibility for the lack of diversity among NFL coaches.
"I think we've made a tremendous amount, a lot of progress in a lot of areas," Goodell said. "But not at head coach. That is something we really have focused on, to try and get the kind of results that we would expect, and well fell short of that by a long shot."
Currently, only one of the NFL's 32 teams is led by a Black coach.
On the topic of overall diversity in football, Goodell took tough questions, with some coming from his own employees.
"When we look at the league office — of the top 11 executives — there are only two people of color," said NFL Network reporter Jim Trotter. "When we look at the NFL media group where I work, there is not one Black person at the senior level in the newsroom who makes decisions about a league whose player population is 70% Black."
"We believe in diversity," Goodell responded. "We believe in it as a value. We believe it's made us stronger. People have come into the league who are diverse and have been very successful and made us better. We just have to do a better job."
In his lawsuit, Flores claimed Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him money to lose games, presumably so the team could get better picks in the NFL Draft. Goodell says those allegations go to the heart of football's integrity.
"They are very serious matters to us on all levels," he said. "We need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them."
Goodell was also asked about sexual harassment allegations made by a former employee against Dan Snyder, owner of the recently renamed Washington Commanders. The team announced Wednesday it would conduct an investigation, but Goodell has other plans.
"I do not see any way a team can do its own investigation of itself," he said. "That's something we would do and we would do with an outside expert that would help us come to the conclusion of what the facts were, what truly happened, so we can make the right decision from there. We'll treat that seriously."
The daunting questions seemed to overshadow Sunday's championship matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.
This story was originally published by Clayton Sandell for Newsy.
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