By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Los Angeles Rams took home the Lombardi Trophy last weekend after beating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood.

The big game is a welcomed event for any U.S. city, but this year’s big game held a deeper meaning.

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Allegations of unfair hiring practices from former Miami Dolphin’s coach Brian Flores, who cited racism, has California’s Legislature calling on the NFL to make changes.

But for local lawmakers, the home turf taste of victory last weekend was bittersweet.

“We’ve seen a lot of very qualified African American coaches, and they just never seem to rise to become head coaches,” said Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. of the 59th District.

After Flores cited racist hiring practices by the NFL, the California Legislative Black Caucus demanded answers in an open letter written directly to the league.

“We need to be able to have a frank discussion about what’s really going on when it comes to picking a leader of these national football teams,” Jones-Sawyer said.

In 2003, the NFL did implement a solution to the problem – the Rooney Rule mandates teams interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior operations positions.

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So has it helped? Jones-Sawyer said not much has changed the coaching level.

Public data from 2012-2021 shows 62 NFL head coaches were hired during that span – white men filled 82% of those positions. And in the 2021 season, there were only three Black head coaches – the same amount of Black head coaches in 2003.

“When most players look like me, there’s a problem when you can’t find people,” Jones-Sawyer said. “You’re saying they can’t coach the game?”

Sacramento-area coaches say hiring more minority coaches is bigger than football and influences more than just the pros.

“Just talking to parents and kids, it’s very important for them to have representation,” said Gino Rodgers who coaches JV football in Sacramento. “They want to see someone that looks like them.”

So what is the California Legislative Black Caucus asking for? For the NFL to come to Sacramento.

“Having a meeting, sitting down and having an honest discussion,” Jones-Sawyer said. “Before we can move on legislation or budget direction or anything here in [California] to right the ship, we need to discuss it with the NFL”

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Jones-Sawyer said league representatives have said they would like to meet with the caucus, and the executive director of the NFL Players Association has expressed interest in joining the meeting as well.