On February 1, 2022, Brian Flores, the former head football coach of the Miami Dolphins, filed a class action lawsuit against his former team, as well as the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the National Football League for discriminatorily denying employment to Black candidates to serve as Head Coaches, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, Quarterback Coaches, and General Managers. The 58-page Complaint also put the other 29 teams in the NFL on notice that they too could be Defendants in this action.
Flores was fired by the Miami Dolphin in January 2022, despite recording the Dolphins’ first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003. Flores alleged he spoke with the Giants via Zoom on Jan. 18, prior to the team hiring former Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen as its GM on Jan. 23. He said that the next day Schoen finalized his interview date for January 27.
However, hours later, Flores’ lawsuit alleges, he received a series of text messages from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, under whom Flores worked for 10 years in New England. In those texts, Belichick told Flores he had heard from “Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy.” 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.
Flores alleges that a similar scenario occurred when he interviewed with the Broncos for their head-coaching job in 2019. Flores says that then-Denver general manager John Elway, among others, arrived to the interview an hour late and hungover — alleging they had been “drinking heavily the night before.”
Flores has now filed suit for discriminatory hiring practices after head coaching interviews didn’t pan out, claiming the talks were perfunctory and merely in satisfaction of the league’s “Rooney Rule,” which mandates that teams interview two minority candidates when they have openings.
The complaint also includes quotes from senior NFL executives admonishing teams for the league’s lack of progress in hiring minority candidates. “Any criticism we get for lack of representation at the GM and head coach positions, we deserve,” quoting the NFL’s Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Jonathan Beane. In addition, the complaint relies heavily on data to show that few head coaches, offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators, quarterback coaches, and general managers are Black.
Flores also alleges that Miami Dolphins owner Steven Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for each game the team lost during the 2019 season to secure a higher draft pick. While this explosive allegation rocked the NFL and has serious implications for the league and Ross’ ability to continue to own the Dolphins, if the charges are substantiated, it has very little to do with whether Flores will prevail on his claims. In fact, there is a strong argument that Flores’ decision not to “play ball” with the owner’s desire to tank – and not the color of his skin, is why he was fired.
Flores said, in a statement put out by the Wigdor Law LLP (that filed the complaint on Flores’s behalf) “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.”
Although the complaint was just recently filed, there are already reports of other former NFL coaches joining the class action against the NFL.