Fired Dolphins coach Flores sues NFL, 3 teams alleging racist hiring practices
Giants, Broncos named in lawsuit along with Miami
Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three of its teams Tuesday, saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.
The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court sought class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unidentified individuals.
Flores was fired last month by Miami after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight winning season, but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure.
"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," Flores said in a release put out by the law firm representing him in the case.
"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," he said.
The lawsuit alleges that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers.
BIG NEWS: Fmr Dolphins coach Brian Flores files class action lawsuit against the NY Giants and the NFL, claiming racial discrimination.<br><br>Says he can prove Giants interviewed him as a "Rooney Rule" show after already deciding to hire Brian Daboll. <a href="https://t.co/WWyOvWm1Gs">https://t.co/WWyOvWm1Gs</a>—@BenFischerSBJ
"In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation," the lawsuit said.
"Its 32 owners — none of whom are Black — profit substantially from the labour of NFL players, 70 per cent of whom are Black. The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars," it added.
The lawsuit said the firing of Flores was typical for Black coaches who are not given the latitude other coaches receive to succeed. It noted that Flores led the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2003.
The improvement came even though, the lawsuit contends, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told Flores he would pay him $100,000 US for every loss during the coach's first season because he wanted the club to "tank" so it could get the draft's top pick.
The lawsuit alleged that Ross then pressured Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of the league's tampering rules. When Flores refused, he was cast as the "angry Black man" who is difficult to work with and was derided until he was fired, the suit said.
Last week, the Giants disclosed to third parties that they had decided to hire Brian Daboll as their new coach even when they had not yet had their scheduled meeting with Flores, the lawsuit said.
"Mr. Flores was deceptively led to believe he actually had a chance at this job," the lawsuit said, adding that he had to endure a dinner with the Giants' new general manager knowing that the team had already selected Daboll.
In a statement, the Giants said: "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."
Statement from the New York Giants <a href="https://t.co/lq8zE3j6NB">pic.twitter.com/lq8zE3j6NB</a>—@jjones9
The lawsuit also claimed Flores was forced to undergo a "sham interview" with the Broncos in 2019, when then-Broncos general manager John Elway, President Joe Ellis and others showed up an hour later for his interview.
"They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before," the lawsuit said. "It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule."
In a statement, the Broncos said the allegations were "blatantly false."
"Pages of detailed notes, analysis and evaluations from our interview demonstrate the depth of our conversation and sincere interest in Mr. Flores as a head coaching candidate," the Broncos said. "Our process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position. The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization — and its employees — from such baseless and disparaging claims."
According to the lawsuit, his treatment by the Giants and Broncos was typical of how the "Rooney Rule" has been administered for the last two decades.
The rule, named after Dan Rooney while he was chairman of the NFL's diversity committee, was created to give more minority candidates opportunities to become a head coach and reward teams who develop them.
According to the lawsuit, only one of the NFL's 32 teams employs a Black head coach, only four of them employ a Black offensive coordinator and only 11 employ a Black defensive coordinator.