Is this how we’re kicking off Black History Month?
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores will officially sue the National Football League (NFL) for “racism in hiring” per reports from ESPN. He will also sue individual teams for the same alleged racist practices, which include the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants, and the Dolphins.
“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,” said Flores in a statement surrounding the news. “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.”
Black Coaches & The NFL
According to The National Law Review, only one Black head coach is employed by the NFL, which makes up an astounding 3.1 percent of head coaches in the league.
When it comes to selecting a head coach, teams are afforded the opportunity to recruit from outside of the league. This includes tapping candidates from other NFL and/ or college teams. This ultimately means that the pool of qualified Black candidates for a particular NFL team should be broader than its own assistant coaches. However, this is not the current reflection of the league.
With an alarmingly low percentage of Black coaches leading teams in the NFL, they do account for approximately 35 to 45 percent of assistant coaches.
Among the allegations brought forth by Flores in the lawsuit that is 58-pages in length, is that Dolphins owners agreed to pay Flores $100,000 for every loss in the 2019 season.
“Flores alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross attempted to incentivize him to ‘tank,’ or purposely lose games, shortly after he was hired in 2019, with Ross allegedly offering Flores $100,000 for every loss that season,” the outlet reports.
After winning games late in the season, Flores claims that he was told that Ross was not pleased with him for worsening the team’s draft position.
Flores also alleges that during a 2019 interview with the Broncos, team executives John Elway and Joe Ellis appeared to be “disheveled,” and that it was “obvious they had been drinking the night before.” Ultimately the team went on to hire Vic Fangio.
Additionally, the lawsuit includes Flores’ most recent process for potentially becoming the head coach of the Giants. He believes that he was brought in to comply with what is called the Rooney Rule. This is said to be a rule within the league that requires teams to interview minority candidates throughout the hiring process.
Further details in the suit include alleged text messages sent to Flores from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick accidentally congratulating Flores on landing the job when he allegedly meant to text the person who was actually selected for the position, Brian Daboll.
“In those texts, Belichick told Flores he had heard from ‘Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy,'” ESPN reports. “Flores asked Belichick to clarify whether he meant to talk to him or Brian Daboll, who was also in the running for the Giants’ job. Belichick acknowledged his error and informed him that the Giants wanted Daboll.”
The League's Response
“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,” said the league 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.”
Despite back-to-back winning records, Flores was fired by the Dolphins following the past season. At this time the amount that he seeks in damages has reportedly not been specified.