Updated: Jun 20, 2022
On the first day of Black History Month, NFL Coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL for "racism in hiring."
The Dolphins fired Flores despite a 9-8 final record. He took over a poor Dolphins team when he took the job in 2019 and still managed a 24-25 record over three seasons and a 10 win season in 2020.
Coach Flores' lawsuit, which focused on the racism that remains prevalent in the NFL, also included an unrelated accusation against the Dolphins. He claimed that the team's owner, Stephen Ross, bribed him $100,000 per loss to lose games and tank in 2019. Ross also asked him to tamper with a "prominent" Quarterback on a yacht party during the 2019 offseason. Flores said that he believes his decision not to tank "hurt my standing within the Dolphins" and was ultimately the reason he was let go.
Last week, Flores was set to interview for the head coaching opening with the New York Giants. Prior to his interview, however, he received an odd text from Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, congratulating him on winning the job:
Flores, who coached for 15 years in New England as an assistant to Belichick, was mistaken by Belichick as Brian Daboll. Daboll, the former Bills Defensive Coordinator who was named Giants head coach on Saturday, had already interviewed for the Giants job and apparently, had already been selected.
Despite Flores set to interview in New York days later, the team had selected Daboll; showing that the Flores interview was likely just for show.
The "Rooney Rule", named after former Steelers owner and chairman of the NFL's diversity committee, Dan Rooney, says that NFL teams must interview ehtnic-minoritiy candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
Flores believes that the only reason he got the interview in the first place was so the Giants could say they abided by the Rooney Rule. The candidate was selected before Flores was interviewed and the team did not give him a fair shot. This is not the first time this has happened to Flores either.
Part of Flores' case mentions an interview with the Denver Broncos in 2019. He said that then-GM John Elway as well as the team's CEO showed up an hour late to the interview "completely disheveled" and it was "obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before."
Like in the Giants case, Flores says that the team interviewed him only to satisfy the Rooney rule, not because they considered him to be a legitimate candidate. Shortly after the interview, the team hired Vic Fangio, a white man. The Broncos called Flores' claims "blatantly false."
The NFL responded to the claims by saying that "clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices" and that that they will "defend against these claims, which are without merit."
Flores' intentions are not to play victim but rather to make change. He said that "in making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love." He follows that by saying that "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." He put his career on the line to fight racism, a courageous choice.
With 70% of NFL players being black, it only makes sense that black coaches are the "most qualified for the job", a term the Broncos and Giants used to describe their other candidates. When Flores was originally fired by Miami, it was shocking news. Despite an average team around him, Flores managed his way to another winning season but was still fired.
Now, there is just one black head coach in the NFL: Mike Tomlin. Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the league, leading the Steelers to 15 straight winning seasons.
While the Rooney rule is in place, there are still major flaws in the system. As ESPN's Bill Rhoden said on CNBC, "To call it broken means that it ever worked."