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Former Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores’ Lawsuit Demands Change to the Current State of the NFL

Photo Credit: John McCall, MBR/TNS

Brian Flores, former Miami Dolphins head coach, is kicking off Black History Month by pushing against internal racism inside of the NFL. The Black coach is suing the National Football League along with the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants for the alleged racial discrimination he's endured over the last few years. On top of that, he's being represented by Wigdor Law LLP, the same law firm that represented the sexual assault victims of Harvey Weinstein.

This comes a little under a month after the Dolphins fired the Black coach despite leading them to back-to-back winning seasons, an accomplishment the team hasn't seen since 2003.

Flores claims his success went against the wishes of the Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross, who expected Flores to tank during his first season so that Miami could gain a favorable draft position. The suit states that Ross went as far as to offer Coach Flores $100,000 for every loss he could muster that season. Much to the dismay of Stephen Ross, the new coach didn't bite and led his team to win most of their games that year.

The lawsuit also reported that Ross tried to get Brian Flores to recruit a "predominant quarterback" to the team. However, this action would've violated NFL tampering rules. Flores refused to cooperate with Ross' request repeatedly, even leaving a yacht party after learning that said quarterback was "coincidently" going to be there.

"From that point forward, Mr. Flores was ostracized and ultimately he was fired." The lawsuit states, "He was subsequently defamed throughout the media and the League as he was labeled by the Dolphins brass as someone who was difficult to work with. This is reflective of an all too familiar 'angry black man' stigma that is often cast upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes."

Coach Flores also claims to have experienced similar racism while going through the Broncos' and the Giants' hiring process.

Since 2003, the NFL has implemented the Rooney Rule. A policy that requires teams to interview at least two "diverse candidates" for head coaching and senior football operation positions. This move has helped increase the amount of Black and Brown coaches in both the NFL and the NCAA. But according to Brian Flores, it also led to him being disrespected and treated like a joke.

Back in 2019, Flores met with the Denver Broncos to interview for their head coaching position. However, the lawsuit claims that the team's management actually had no interest in hiring the Black coach. That the only reason they were meeting was to satisfy the Rooney Rule. And the way Flores lawyers tell it, the Broncos' lack of respect for him and his time was evident as soon as the interview began.

"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 experience was frustrating to say the least. But the coach moved on to work for the Miami Dolphins until his firing earlier this year. He was once again out of work and was forced to go back to job hunting. On January 24, he was able to secure an interview with the New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen for the 27th of the same month. But only hours after confirming the interview, he received a text from longtime associate and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulating Brian Flores on being hired as the Giants' new head coach. When Flores notified the coach that his interview was still three days away, Belichick still insisted that he would soon receive the job. Then something clicked in Flores's mind. He then asked Belichick if he knew who he was talking to, Brian Flores or Brian Daboll, another coach vying for the position. It was then that the Patriots coach realized that he had confused the two Brians and informed Flores that he indeed meant to contact Daboll.

"Thus, on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022, Mr. Flores was forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the Giant's new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll. Much worse, on Thursday, January 27th, 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."

The last group being sued by the former Dolphins coach is none other than the NFL. The lawsuit proceeds to showcase instance after instance of Black coaches, players, and staff being mistreated and overlooked throughout the NFL's 100+ year-long history. He expresses in the lawsuit a list of things he wants to happen in the NFL as a whole. This includes the hiring of more Black coaches, GMs, coordinators, etc. The increase of objectivity in hiring and firing around the League. Ensuring more people of color are involved in the hiring process. Increased transparency about pay within upper management. And many other policies that would ensure Black and Brown people receive fair treatment within the National Football League.

In a statement made shortly after the suit was filed, Brian Flores had this to say about the state of the NFL and the impact he hopes his decision has made.

"We didn't have to file a lawsuit for the world to know there's an issue… We need change. That was the number one reason. I know there's sacrifice, there's risk to that, but at the end of the day, we need change… 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."

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