NFL

Super Bowl LV: Goodell calls for greater diversity as NFL plans for 2021 international games

By Sports Desk February 04, 2021

Roger Goodell remains unsatisfied with the level of minority hires for head coaching roles in the NFL, while he has also revealed his hope that international games can return in 2021. 

Only two of seven vacant head coach positions have been filled by a diverse candidate, with the New York Jets hiring Robert Saleh – the first NFL coach known to be Muslim – and the Houston Texans appointing David Culley, who becomes just one of three black head coaches currently in the league. 

NFL commissioner Goodell noted positives in other positions but said alternative avenues to encourage more diversity will be explored. 

"It's much broader than just head coaches for us, but the head coaches are important, and we put a lot of our policies and focus on that this year as you know," Goodell said at a pre-Super Bowl LV news conference.  

"We had two minority coaches hired this year, but it wasn't what we expected and it's not what we expect going forward.  

"So, for us we want to continue to look and see what went right and what went wrong. There needs to be visual discussions with candidates both successful and unsuccessful candidates of the teams and try to understand it.  

"They're not the outcomes we wanted and we're committed more than ever to make sure that we do that but we want it to be a natural process. We want it to be a process that is what we believe in diversity is making us better ultimately." 

The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of five games that were due to take place in London and Mexico City last year due to uncertainty over travel amid the global health crisis.

Goodell is planning for the international fixtures to return to the calendar this year, though warned the league is ready to pull the plug again if the situation demands such action. 

"We are planning for our international games in 2021. That's the approach we're going to take, we obviously are going to stay in close contact with our partners in the UK and in Mexico and make sure that we are doing that safely," he added.  

"If at any point in time, we don't think we could execute that safely we will make that determination like last year. I think we ended up deciding not to play the international sometime right before the schedule was announced.  

"I think it was in April and that I think that was done after a lot of consultation not only with our medical officials, but also looking at the risks with the Players Association of travelling the entire party over in a stadium where we weren't able to implement our protocols. 

"So, we hope to get back there and we're planning for it and we'll make that decision whenever we have enough information to do so."

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    Edelman, a seventh-round pick in 2009, played a crucial role in the second half of the Patriots' dynasty, winning three Super Bowl titles with New England.

    He was named Super Bowl LIII MVP for his performance in the most recent of the Patriots' championship triumphs, which saw him make 10 catches for 141 yards.

    Consistently reliable in the biggest moments, Edelman ranks second in postseason receiving yards (1,442) and receptions (118).

    But a knee injury suffered last season has put an end to his storied career, with his retirement announced shortly after the Patriots released him with a failed physical designation.

    In a video announcement on Twitter, Edelman said: "I've always said, I'll go until the wheels come off, and they've finally fallen off.

    "Due to an injury last year, I'll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football.

    "It's a hard decision but the right decision for me and my family. I'm honoured and so proud to be retiring a Patriot."

    Head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement: "By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all.

    "Few players can match Julian's achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic.

    "This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out.

    "Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances.

    "For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player.

    "He could, and did, do everything – catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle – all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance. Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him."

    Edelman finishes his career second in Patriots history with 620 receptions, fourth with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 receiving touchdowns.

    He racked up 58 rushing attempts for 413 yards, the most rushing attempts and rushing yards by a receiver in franchise history. Edelman's total of 9,869 all-purpose yards is fourth in team history.

  • Cincinnati Bengals: Progress hinges on Joe Burrow protection Cincinnati Bengals: Progress hinges on Joe Burrow protection

    Joe Burrow showcased enough in his Ohio homecoming to suggest he has a chance to be the Cincinnati Bengals' saviour at quarterback.

    But, after the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft saw a promising rookie season snuffed out by a serious knee injury, there is as much tension as there is excitement surrounding the Bengals.

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    Burrow ranked seventh in the NFL in yards per game (268.8) across his 10 appearances for Bengals from Week 1 to 11, with his average impacted by his injury against Washington.

    He had five 300-yard passing games and averaged a poor throw every 13.1 attempts, a better rate than Josh Allen (11.4), Deshaun Watson (11.9) and Lamar Jackson (12.5).

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    He likely would have fared better going downfield had he benefited from greater protection. Burrow was sacked on 7.34 per cent of his dropbacks, the 10th-highest rate among quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks.

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    Twelve of Higgins' 14 third-down receptions went for a first down, while Boyd moved the chains on 15 of his 19 third-down catches.

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    Cincinnati's tally of 67 negative plays forced was 30th in the NFL, with the negative play yardage of minus 208 yards the lowest in the league.

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    Offseason

    The Bengals lost their most disruptive pass rusher from last season as edge rusher Carl Lawson departed for the New York Jets in free agency.

    Lawson had only 5.5 sacks but racked up 32 quarterback hits, with his combined hurries and knockdowns tally of 65.5 tied for ninth in the NFL.

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    Jackson had double-digit pass deflections in three of his four seasons with Cincinnati and is coming off a year in which he had a burn percentage in coverage of 46.5, his lowest since his rookie campaign (34.7).

    They filled the void he left by gambling on the athleticism of former Dallas Cowboy cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, whose burn percentage of 59.5 for his career is significantly worse than Jackson's 48.2.

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