Brian Flores’s lawsuit, explained: “Former Dolphins coach sues NFL and clubs for discriminatory hiring practices.”
Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a class-action complaint against the NFL and its franchises on Tuesday, saying that the league not only discriminated against black applicants for coaching and front-office positions but also staged fraudulent interviews under the guise of implementing the Rooney Rule.
The case, filed in the Southern District of New York, claims that the NFL and its teams violated Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.
Flores, the named plaintiff, claims to speak for over 40 members of the proposed class, which includes “all Black head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, quarterback coaches, general managers, and aspirants for those jobs.”
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Flores, who was sacked after guiding Miami to back-to-back winning seasons, argues in his complaint that the NFL and its clubs operate like a “plantation,” with the 32 teams—none of whose owners are black—profiting off the work of a league that is 70% black. Flores’ lawsuit also alleges that the league fails to appropriately address “racism, notably in the hiring and retention of black head coaches, coordinators, and general managers.”
Flores claims that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross urged him to “tank” the squad during the 2019 season in order to boost the team’s draught position and acquire the No. 1 overall pick (which ultimately went to the Bengals, who used their position to select quarterback Joe Burrow from LSU). Flores reportedly said Ross promised him $100,000 for each defeat he suffered that year.
Then, when the Dolphins began to win games, thanks in large part to Mr. Flores‘ coaching, Mr. Flores was informed by the team’s general manager, Chris Grier, that “Steve” was “mad” and that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was “compromising (the team’s) draught position.”
Flores’ complaint also claims that Ross wanted him to break league tampering regulations after the 2019 season in order to recruit a “prominent quarterback” — presumably Tom Brady, who was scheduled to reach free agency — to play for the Dolphins. Flores claims that after “he consistently refused to comply with these inappropriate directions,” Ross invited him to lunch on a boat in the same harbour where the anonymous quarterback “conveniently” arrived. Flores “refused the meeting and abruptly exited the boat.”
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According to the lawsuit, “Flores was regarded with contempt and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to deal with” after the event.
Flores also accused the Broncos and Giants of holding “fake” interviews with him in 2019 and 21.
Flores stated that former Denver Broncos general manager John Elway, club president/CEO Joe Ellis, and others were an hour late for a 2019 interview. “They were very unkempt, and it was clear that they had been drinking extensively the night before.” The nature of the interview made it plain that Mr. Flores was only interviewed because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos had no intention of considering him as a credible contender for the position. “
Flores’ complaint included a purported image of a text conversation with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who apparently mistook Flores for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.he was speaking to Daboll, Belichick congratulated Flores on his new position three days before he was scheduled to meet with the Giants.
BIG NEWS: Fmr Dolphins coach Brian Flores files class action lawsuit against the NY Giants and the NFL, claiming racial discrimination.
Says he can prove Giants interviewed him as a “Rooney Rule” show after already deciding to hire Brian Daboll. https://t.co/WWyOvWm1Gs
— Ben Fischer (@BenFischerSBJ) February 1, 2022
Among the lawsuit’s results are:
increase the impact of black people in hiring and firing choices for roles such as general manager, head coach, and offensive and defensive coordinator.
increase the impartiality of hiring and firing choices for roles such as general manager, head coach, and offensive and defensive coordinator.
Increase the number of African-American offensive and defensive coordinators.
Encourage the employment and retention of black general managers, head coaches, and offensive and defensive coordinators by providing monetary, draught, and/or other rewards, such as greater salary cap space.
Complete salary transparency for all general managers, head coaches, and offensive and defensive coordinators.
Statement by Brian Flores
Flores has subsequently issued the following statement in response to the filing of his lawsuit (via the Miami Herald):
God has given me a specific skill for coaching football, but the need for change is greater than my own aspirations. I recognise that by filing the class action case, I may jeopardise my ability to teach the sport I like. My honest goal is that by speaking out against institutional racism in the NFL, others will join me in ensuring good change for future generations. “
What the NFL, the Giants, and other clubs have stated
Following the filing of Flores’ lawsuit on Tuesday, the NFL, Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos issued the following comments.
The National Football League: “The NFL and its clubs are highly committed to maintaining fair procedures and are making strides in offering equal opportunities throughout our business.” Diversity is at the heart of all we do, and there are few subjects on which our clubs and internal leadership team are more focused. We will fight back against these baseless charges. “
The Dolphins: “We learned of the case this afternoon thanks to media reporting. We adamantly dispute any charges of racial discrimination and are proud of our organization’s diversity and inclusivity. The inference that we operated in a way that violated the game’s integrity is wrong. We shall refrain from commenting more on the case at this time. “
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(via The Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala):
In a statement, the Denver Broncos say Brian Flores’s allegations against the team are “blatantly false.” pic.twitter.com/YMrMrkDGQa
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) February 1, 2022
The Giants: “We are happy and satisfied with the process that culminated in Brian Daboll’s employment. We interviewed a broad and excellent set of applicants. The truth is that Brian Flores was in the running to be our head coach until the very last second. Finally, we hired the person we thought was the most competent to be our new head coach. “
Brian Flores’ coaching track record
Flores has a 24-25 record in three seasons at Miami, a record skewed by a 5-11 season in his first year in command in 2019. He had winning seasons in 2020 and ’21 (10-6 and 9-8, respectively), missing the NFL playoffs by one game in both.
Flores previously worked as a scout and assistant under Belichick with the Patriots from 2004 until 2018.
What exactly is the Rooney Rule?
The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires clubs to examine ethnically minority applicants for head coaching and senior football operations positions. It is named after former Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who also served as the league’s diversity committee chairman.
The committee was formed in 2002 in response to the firings of black head coaches Tony Dungy of the Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Vikings; Dungy had only one losing season—his first—in six years with the Buccaneers, and had averaged ten wins per season—making the playoffs each year—in his final three years in Tampa Bay.
Green, however, was dismissed by the Vikings following a 5-10 season in 2001. It was his first losing season in Minnesota in ten years, after three straight seasons with regular-season records of 15-1, 10-6, and 11-5.
In 2003, the NFL fined the Lions $200,000 for breaching the Rooney Rule when numerous black applicants withdrew from interviews due to the team’s apparent decision to hire former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci. The rule has also been criticised for being unsuccessful since some black coordinators, like Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, have been unable to get head coaching jobs.
Black coaches in the National Football League
Currently, the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin is the only black head coach in the NFL (3 percent). In addition, the NFL has four black offensive coordinators (12%), 11 black defensive coordinators (34%), eight special team coordinators (25%), and three black quarterback coaches (9%).There are only six black general managers in the league (19% of the total).Before the Dolphins signed Flores, the league appointed 22 minority head coaches between 2003 and 2019.
Since then, no black head coaches have been employed.
What comes next?
While the timeframe is unclear, the NFL will have the chance to react to the charges and submit arguments for dismissal or arbitration, as they did with former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s case. They want to “vigorously defend themselves against these charges.”
Flores’ route may vary, but legal procedures must be followed, according to Sportico legal specialist Michael McCann.
Evidence wouldn’t be presented for a while, if we ever see it. Flores has to get by a motion to dismiss. If he does, then he can make life very difficult for NFL and teams by demanding sworn testimony, emails, hiring notes etc. League would probably settle before we see anything. https://t.co/6SZDeeewlU
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) February 1, 2022
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