During his annual state of the NFL address on Wednesday, Goodell told reporters "it's clear we need to change and do something different" because "there’s no reason to expect a different outcome next year without changes."
The lack of minority head coaches in the NFL has been an ongoing topic for some time, but the discussion around it seemed to hit a new level this year.
Of the five head-coaching changes made by teams following the 2019 regular season, Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins) was the only non-white person hired.
Among the 32 NFL teams, only the Redskins, Miami Dolphins (Brian Flores), Pittsburgh Steelers (Mike Tomlin) and Los Angeles Chargers (Anthony Lynn) have non-white head coaches.
Last March, Tomlin told The Undefeated's Jason Reid that he thinks part of the problem stems from the trends NFL owners follow when they are looking for a new head coach:
"It's how young coaches are cultivated. I was having a discussion with someone a few weeks back, telling them that in the mid-'90s I was a young offensive coach. And I received advice, sound advice, that I had a better chance of ascending on the defensive side of the ball. So I became a defensive coach. If offensive coaches are en vogue this hiring cycle, and guys in my age group, particularly those of color, have been advised in that way then, obviously, there might be [fewer minorities in the pipeline on offense] right now. Just the overall development of sharp young coaches, at all levels, and making an investment in them, that is what's important."
An ongoing trend for teams hiring head coaches is to find someone with an offensive background because the league has become so focused on big, explosive plays. The lack of people of color in the offensive coaching ranks in the league leaves few options for teams.
The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003 that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach and front-office positions. It has had a positive overall impact on the NFL, but the lack of significant change in the diversity of hirings suggests more work needs to be done.