Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is suing the NFL and several teams, naming the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants, and the Dolphins, for racial discrimination in the NFL’s hiring process.
In the class-action suit filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Flores makes the claim that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pressured Flores to “tank” during the 2019 season, to the point that Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each loss during the season. He also claims that “Mr. Ross began to pressure Mr. Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of League tampering rules” at the end of the 2019 season.
Flores was fired as head coach of the Dolphins in January, following two winning seasons as head coach in Miami. It was the first back-to-back winning seasons for the organization since the 2003 season.
Flores claims that as a result of refusing to recruit the quarterback, he was “treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.” The suit alleges that the Dolphins labeled Flores as “difficult to work with” through the media.
“This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes,” the suit states.
Flores also alleges that the Giants interviewed him while already intending to hire Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirements.
According to NFL communications, “the Rooney Rule is an NFL policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates.”
The suit shows text messages between Flores and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in which Belichick informs Flores that the Giants have decided to hire Daboll. Belichick apparently believed he was texting Daboll instead of Flores.
Texts from Bill Belichick to Brian Flores, congratulating Brian for landing the #Giants job.
Belichick thought he was texting Brian Daboll. He was texting Flores by mistake. pic.twitter.com/Y686XcjYC3
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 1, 2022
“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the Giants said in a statement. “We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach.”
Flores also alleges that in a 2019 interview for the Broncos head coaching position, “then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview.”
“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had [been] drinking heavily the night before,” the suit continues. “It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”
Flores put out a statement on Tuesday saying that he was “standing up against systemic racism in the NFL” by filing the suit.
“God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals,” Flores said in a release put out by the Wigdor firm. “In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”
Also on Tuesday, the NFL said the claims were “without merit” in a statement.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” the league said in a statement. “Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”
NFL statement on Brian Flores’ lawsuit: pic.twitter.com/LaJVJuw3gS
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 1, 2022
Flores is seeking unspecified damages from the NFL, along with increasing the number of black offensive and defensive coordinators, an increase in the “influence of Black individuals in hiring and termination decisions for General Manager, Head Coach and Offensive and Defensive Coordinator positions,” and for the NFL to “incentivize the hiring and retention of Black General Managers, Head Coaches and Offensive and Defensive Coordinators.”
The suit alleges that black head coaches are discriminated against and are “far less likely than white Head Coaches to receive second chances even as white Head Coaches are routinely hired by Teams even after they fail elsewhere.”
The suit also lays out the “history of race discrimination in the NFL,” using former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s inability to picked up by another team after being released by the 49ers following the 2016-2017 season as one of the examples.
A previous version of this article misstated the number of teams Flores is suing. He is suing 3 teams.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].