Former Miami Dolphins Coach Brian Flores has filed a lawsuit against not only his former team, but also the NFL and two other teams – the Denver Broncos and New York Giants – alleging he was discriminated against during his interview processes with the latter two organizations and firing from the Dolphins last month.
According to ESPN, the 58-page lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday (February 1) and seeks class-action status. Flores, who is Black alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to incentivize him to purposely lose games shortly after he was hired in 2019.
Flores says that as the team won games, Ross allegedly offered him $100,000 for every game he’d lose. Miami general manager Chris Grier told him that Ross was “mad” that Flores’ late-season winning was “compromising [the team’s] draft position.”
The suit also includes text messages he alleges are from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick demonstrating that the Giants conducted an interview with Flores knowing they intended to hire someone else to be head coach and to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule mandate requiring that teams interview minority candidates.
“While racial barriers have been eroded in many areas, Defendant the National Football League (“NFL” or the “League”) lives in a time of the past,” the lawsuit states. “As described throughout this Class Action Complaint, the NFL remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers.”
It continues, in-part: “Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organizations (the “Teams”) have been given every chance to do the right thing. Rules have been implemented, promises made—but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.”
The NFL has since responded with a statement disputing the suit, claiming it is “without merit” while defending its hiring practices.
“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 statement reads. “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.”
In regards to the Denver Broncos being named in the lawsuit, Flores alleges that he met with the team’s leadership including then-general manager John Elway and president Joe Ellis in 2019. He claims that the pair showed up to the meeting an hour late, were “drinking heavily the night before” and looked “completely disheveled.” The team ultimately hired Vic Fangio while Flores landed in Miami. Fangio was fired by the Broncos last month.
Additionally, Flores’ suit said that Colin Kaepernick and his exit from the NFL amid his protests of police brutality and social injustice were another example of alleged racism in hiring practices that extends to quarterbacks.
"Against the backdrop of the League’s history, this conduct remains an appalling example of the League’s continued problems with race," it states.
As previously reported, Brian Flores was cut by the Dolphins in January, which came as a shock to many, considering he posted back-to-back winning seasons over the past two years. The Dolphins were also able to rally from a 1-7 start in 2021 to finish 9-8, including a 33-24 win against division foe New England to conclude the season. With the subsequent firing of Houston Texans head coach David Culley, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin became the lone Black head coach remaining in the league.
Since the conclusion of the NFL regular season, no minority candidates have been hired to fill head coaching vacancies, including those of the Broncos and Giants, who have hired Nathaniel Hackett and Brian Daboll respectively.