Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who was fired at the end of this season despite having a winning season at 9-8 and finishing third in the AFC East, has filed an explosive lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Dolphins accusing the league of racism in its hiring practices.
The lawsuit cites a text from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as proof that minority candidates aren’t seriously considered for head coaching positions, but are rather only interviewed to satisfy the league’s “Rooney Rule” requiring teams to interview two minority candidates for open head coaching positions, as well as for GM and assistant coaching jobs.
In the text sent to Flores, Belichick congratulates Flores on being named head coach of the New York Giants – despite the fact that Flores hadn’t even interviewed for the job yet.
Belichick then realized he had mistakenly texted Brian Flores instead of Brian Daboll, who would ultimately end up being named the Giants’ head coach.
Texts from Bill Belichick to Brian Flores, congratulating Brian for landing the #Giants job.
But Flores still had to go through the interview process, which he calls a “sham” and an “effort to comply with the Rooney Rule.”
And he claims that his interview with the Denver Broncos in 2019 was similarly a sham after then-GM John Elway and President & CEO Joe Ellis showed up an hour late to the interview looking disheveled and had been “drinking heavily the night before.”
The Broncos ultimately hired Vic Fangio as their head coach, who was also let go at the end of the 2021 season.
Flores points out that, at the time the Rooney Rule was instituted, seemingly in an attempt to increase diversity among NFL staff and executives, there were three black head coaches in the NFL, while now there is only one black head coach in a league where 70% of the players are black.
And Flores also dropped some explosive allegations on his most recent team, the Miami Dolphins.
According to Flores, during the 2019 season, which was his first with the team, owner Stephen Ross told Flores that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss in order to tank so that the team could get the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The team ultimately went 5-11 that season, and Flores claims he was told by GM Chris Grier that Ross was mad that their wins were compromising the team’s draft position.
(The Dolphins ended up taking QB Tua Tagovailoa with the 8th pick in the 2020 draft. The first overall pick that season went to the Cincinnati Bengals, who used that pick on another QB who happens to have led the Bengals to the Super Bowl this year: Joe Burrow).
Flores also points to the league’s “Discrimination Against Colin Kaepernick,” the NFL’s “Acquiescence to Discrimination by Head Coach Jon Gruden” and the fact that popular head coaching candidate Eric Bieniemy, current offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, has still not been offered a head coaching position, as examples of racism and discrimination within the league.
His complaint asks the court to issue an injunction ordering the NFL to, among other things: Create a fund to incentivize black investors to take majority ownership in NFL teams; include black players and coaches in the interview process for coaches and general managers; increase objectivity such as past performance and experience in hiring criteria; and incentivize the hiring and retention of black coaches and managers through either monetary or draft compensation.
Flores also asked that his complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, be certified as a class action lawsuit on behalf of all black coaches, general managers and candidates within the NFL.
There’s quite a bit to unpack in this lawsuit (and you can read the entire complaint here if that’s your thing), but it’s safe to say that we can probably expect the NFL to push back hard on the allegations.
But what will Ross and the Dolphins have to say about allegedly trying to pay Flores to tank in 2019? Or Belichick about the mistaken text congratulating Flores before he had even interviewed?