Home Sports Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores files discrimination lawsuit against NFL, Giants and others – The Athletic

Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores files discrimination lawsuit against NFL, Giants and others – The Athletic

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Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores files discrimination lawsuit against NFL, Giants and others – The Athletic

By The Athletic Staff
February 2, 2022 12:28 PM EST
616 Comments

Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores has filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, the Giants and several teams alleging discrimination in their hiring practices.

The 58-page lawsuit claims that "while racial barriers have been eroded in many areas," the NFL "lives in a time of the past" and "remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers.

"Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organizations 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."

Flores said he understands that his career could be at stake by filing the suit. He did, however, have an interview with the Saints for their open head-coaching position in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday, a source confirmed to The Athletic.

"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," he said. "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 has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing against the systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

Among the allegations in the suit, Flores claims the Giants interviewed him for their then-vacant head coaching position despite having already decided to hire former Bills assistant Brian Daboll.

The NFL calls the claims in the suit "without merit."

"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 Tuesday night. "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."

The lawsuit states that the Giants "had an opportunity to move a step in the right direction, if even only one. The Giants had the chance to hire Mr. Flores, an eminently qualified Black man, to be the first Black Head Coach in the Giants’ nearly 100-year history. Instead, the New York Giants made the decision to hire Brian Daboll — and disclosed that decision to third parties — during a time when the Giants were scheduled to still interview Mr. Flores and when Mr. Flores was deceptively led to believe he actually had a chance at this job."

The suit says that on Jan. 26, Flores "was forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the (Giants') new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll. Much worse, on Thursday, January 27, 2022, Mr. Flores had to give an extensive interview for a job that he already knew he would not get — an interview that was held for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Part of Flores' claim toward the Giants stemmed from text messages from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick mistakenly congratulating him on becoming the Giants coach despite him not yet having interviewed for the job.

In two screen shots of text message chains allegedly from Belichick, the Patriots coach said he made a mistake in his messages to Flores.

Belichick's alleged response: "Sorry – I fucked this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think … they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.”

The Patriots declined to comment when reached Tuesday evening.

The Giants said in a Tuesday afternoon statement: “We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll. 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."

The lawsuit also alleges that the Denver Broncos conducted "a sham interview" with Flores "in an effort to comply with the Rooney Rule" in 2019. According to the court documents, "Broncos’ then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview." The suit goes on to say "they looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had (been) drinking heavily the night before."

"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," the lawsuit says. "Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos."

Flores also alleges the Dolphins tried to incentivize the team losing in 2019 to gain a better draft pick in 2020.

"He was fired by the Dolphins after leading the team to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003. The purported basis for his termination was alleged poor collaboration," the lawsuit claimed. "In reality, the writing had been on the wall since Mr. Flores’ first season as Head Coach of the Dolphins, when he refused his owner’s directive to 'tank' for the first pick in the draft. Indeed, during the 2019 season, Miami’s owner, Stephen Ross, told Mr. Flores that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss, and the team’s General Manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that 'Steve' was 'mad' that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was 'compromising (the team’s) draft position.'"

The Dolphins released a statement in response to the allegations on Tuesday, denying the allegations of racial discrimination. "The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time," the statement said.

Flores will be in-studio on "CBS Mornings" on Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET, joined by his attorneys Doug Wigdor and John Elefterakis, to discuss the lawsuit.

Follow our blog for live updates, news and reaction to the former Dolphins coach filing a discrimination suit against the NFL and all 32 teams.

(Photo: Mark Brown / Getty Images)
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