Earlier today, February 1st, 2022, Brian Flores filed a class action complaint against the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and the National Football League alleging that the NFL and its member organizations engage in racist hiring practices against black coaching candidates. This article attempts to impartially break down the complaint presented to the US district court in Southern New York.
Last month, the Miami Dolphins announced that they were firing Brian Flores after his third year on a five year contract. This move came as a surprise to many NFL insiders, as Miami had finished the season on an 8-1 run and had completed back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-2003. During this announcement, Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross said “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren't functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins.” Flores immediately became a top candidate for many open coaching positions, including the New York Giants who had fired Joe Judge the same week.
The Giants, led by newly hired general manager Joe Schoen and owner John Mara, finalized an in-person interview with Flores on January 27th. However, mere hours after the scheduling of this interview, Flores received a text from Bill Belichick congratulating him on being hired as the Giants’ new head coach. However, as the screenshots below show, Belichick mistakenly had texted Brian Flores instead of Brian Daboll, who was New York’s preferred candidate. Flores continued with the interview process as planned. However, he alleges that the Giants only proceeded to interview him to comply with the Rooney Rule, which requires that NFL teams interview at least two black candidates for head coaching positions.
Flores further alleges that this is not the first time he has been interviewed solely because of the Rooney Rule, saying that in 2019 Denver’s ownership interviewed him for the open HC position before ultimately hiring Vic Fangio. Flores claims that John Elway, then the Broncos’ GM, and Joe Ellis, the current Broncos president, showed up over an hour late, clearly hungover and unprepared after a night of heavy drinking before. The complaint alleges that this behavior is not uncommon when black candidates are interviewed for head coach positions as these candidates are not taken seriously by many organizations.
Flores also alleges further misconduct by Stephen Ross when Flores was the Dolphins’ Head Coach, stating that Ross offered him $100,000 per loss during their season as they attempted to tank. When Flores won games, he was told by management that Steve was unhappy with his performance. Furthermore, during the offseason after 2019-20, Ross arranged a meeting with a prominent quarterback (believed by many insiders to be Tom Brady) in violation of the NFL’s tampering rules. When Flores declined to meet with said quarterback, he was treated with disdain by management.
Flores, under legal representation by Wigdor LLP, brought this class action suit forward on February 1st, the start of Black History Month, to highlight the NFL’s general problems with race, including but not limited to the treatment of Colin Kaepernick, reaction to Jon Gruden’s messages, and the concussion settlement disputes with former black players. Flores and other plaintiffs seek to further diversity at the head coaching level and above by helping increase the say minorities have over hiring and firing of coaches, increasing objectivity in termination processes, and helping fund training programs to increase the number of black offensive and defensive coordinators, which is the largest pool for new head coach hires.
Down N Out will continue to cover this case as it develops.