The National Football League has come under fire for its hiring practices over the past two months, following the news that former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is suing the league for racial discrimination.
In the class-action lawsuit, Flores alleges that the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos only brought him in to interview for their open head coach positions in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule, a policy that requires “every team with a head coaching vacancy” to interview one “diverse” candidate. Flores, who is black, alleges the Giants interviewed him when they had already decided to hire someone else.
The suit shows text messages between Flores and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, texts in which Belichick “mistakenly disclosed” to Flores that the Giants had decided to hire Brian Daboll, who is white. Belichick reportedly believed he was texting Daboll instead of Flores.
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 states. “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.”
The NFL’s response has been to double down, implementing a rule last week which requires all 32 teams to hire a minority assistant coach on the offensive staff, according to NFL.com. The individual can be a minority or a female, and will be signed to a one-year deal, partially paid from a league-wide fund.
“Well, I know what Brian [Flores] is doing,” Congressman Burgess Owens (R-UT) told The Daily Wire in an exclusive interview. “First of all, I applaud him because what he has done is exactly right. I’ve seen this for years. I’ve had teammates of mine that left the game, wanted to coach — talented young people — and they never got an opportunity. Or they brought them in, they went through the same process of interviewing them and they just moved right along. What racists do when caught with racist policies, is they double down with more racism.”
“So, no. They’re not going to apologize, they’re not going to change their ways,” Owens continued. “They’re going to now say, ‘OK, we’re not going to just interview. We’re now going to hire. We’re going to move this to a different level. We’re going to truly show how great we are, how magnificent we are. We’re not going to just interview people. We’ll guarantee we’ll hire at least one [minority candidate].'”
Owens, now a U.S. Congressman representing a district in Utah, played 10 years in the NFL after being selected by the New York Jets in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. Owens was chosen for the All-Rookie Team and won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders in 1980. He is fully against the NFL’s Rooney Rule, saying that — like NFL rosters — coaching positions should be based on a meritocracy.
“Whenever you’re dealing with affirmative action and you’re picking people based on their skin color … then it is racist,” Owens told The Daily Wire. “Let’s just call it for what it is. At the end of the day, it starts off with an idea that the only reason that blacks can actually get into this environment, they can actually lead, become the commissioner, the only way they can do that is based on a quota system.”
“It takes away the opportunities from other good, talented people to show up and to get that position,” he continued. “And to be honest with you, it’s so well-entrenched into the NFL, I don’t know exactly how to change that other than changing from the very top.”
“I’m going to go back now to the way I’ve seen affirmative action for a long time,” Owens added. “If you find out that a team is acting with racist policies, how do they change the scenario, the conversation? By saying we’re going to do affirmative action. We’re going to give X amount of black people or females an opportunity moving forward. At the end of the day, they should be saying, ‘we’re going to get the very best talent.’ Period. And seeing that there are so many black athletes coming through this environment, it would make sense that at some point we’re going to see a trend where you have more black involvement. Because there’re so many players who understand the game, they study the game, they’re great at the game.”
Owens, who grew up in an era much different than the one we live in now, blames the NFL and the “elitist class” for dividing the country with policies such as the Rooney Rule and Critical Race Theory.
“I think the blessings that I’ve had is that I grew up in an era when it’s so different than today,” Owens told The Daily Wire. “Now, I grew up in the era when I was the third black to get a scholarship to the University of Miami.”
“We have an elitist class that gets their power out of dividing us,” he continued. “Whether it be political power, whether it be financial power, they get their power out of making sure that we’re looking at each other from outside in rather than inside out. And for the NFL to do what they did years ago, and divide our nation on whether we should be standing for our flag, that to me is an affront to who we are. It is an affront to the league itself. And I think Americans need to figure out a way — sad to say, we love the sport, we get caught up in it — I have not watched a game in three years. I refuse to watch an organization that’s trying to turn our country against each other.”
While the NFL may be putting systems in place which require teams to hire coaches based on the color of their skin, Owens believes that the American people are “waking up,” knowing that coming together is the only way moving forward.
“I think Americans are waking up to realize we don’t want that anymore,” Owens said. “We show up 70,000 people in the stadium and stands [a reference to the Final Four in New Orleans]. The last thing we want to think about is all the divisiveness. We want to come together. That’s where we drift. So, I have faith that American people will continue to drift back to the light of harmony, of looking at each other based on meritocracy. And we’re going to have discussions that if things like the NFL is putting in place, that shows the true heart of racism, is when you find people that divide, that hire based on color instead of meritocracy — only in the office, by the way. They do meritocracy on the field, because they know that’s where they gotta get paid, but they get away with it in their offices.”
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]