Coach Alleges Racism Against NFL in Lawsuit


Photo Credit: Jason Behnken

Rene Almanza, Owlfeed Managing Sports Editor

With the NFL remaining popular as it is, every Sunday 37.1 million people tune in to see the game that unfolds within their TVs. However, it’s what’s behind the TV that the NFL may not want the public to see.

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is suing the NFL over discriminatory practices.

Flores said he experienced sham interviews with notable teams including the Giants and the Broncos, with the only basis of bringing him being because he’s a minority. 

During the 2021 season with the Dolphins, Flores had a 9-8 record which is outstanding considering that the team started with a 1-7 record and seemed to be hitting rock bottom. Somehow he pulled his team back up and had a chance to make the playoffs. 

What leads an organization to let go of a coach on the rise, and how does it relate to Brian Flores suing the league?

On February 7, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, in order to “shine a light on the racial injustices that take place inside the NFL,” said Wigdor Law LLP, the firm that will be representing Brian.

Behind closed doors back in the 2019 season, Dolphins owner Stephan Ross allegedly told Flores to “tank” or lose on purpose, offering him $100,000 per loss for his transgression.

In Flores’ mind, it felt like he was being undermined as head coach to only secure value for future NFL draft picks and not worry about the now. Something a head coach isn’t supposed to do is play down to competition.

With the New York Giants, he believed his interview was “sham” and “embarrassing” as it seemed like the Giants’ preferred candidate had already been decided. 

Just one week prior to his interview with the Giants, Patriots coach Bill Belichick texted him, “Congratulations.” Belichick texted the wrong Brian as the new head coach for the Giants is named Brian Daboll, former Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator.

His interview was a waste of time for both Brian and the Giants. Flores believes he was only regarded as a candidate to satisfy the NFL’s requirement that teams interview minority candidates, known as the Rooney Rule.

Regarding the Brian Flores lawsuit, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview with Sports Illustrated on the topic of hiring more Black and minority coaches stated: “We believe in diversity…We believe it has made us stronger. People who have come into the league who are diverse have been very successful and made us better, and we just have to do a better job.” 

As of this late coaching hiring cycle, there were nine open vacancies in need of a head coach with only two vacancies being filled by a minority coach.

This storm was made possible by the lack of empathy and care for the Rooney Rule, which made it a requirement for all NFL owners to follow. 

From NFL communications, Traci Blunt said there needed to be “more opportunities for diverse candidates to be considered for head coaching and front office management positions.”

“Clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club; Clubs must continue best practice recommendation of considering multiple diverse candidates,” the rule states.

Many clubs take advantage of this rule, as it is not really a priority for teams to consider minority coaches. Rather, it is a checkmark box to tick off and not get any financial ramifications.

Brian Flores’ class action lawsuit states: “The Rooney Rule is also not working because management is not doing the interviews in good faith. It, therefore, creates a stigma that interviews of Black candidates are only being done to comply with the Rooney Rule rather than in recognition of the talents that the Black candidates possess.”

Brian Flores’ intention is not to earn himself a quick buck over the NFL. In fact, he is risking his NFL career over the mantra to “create some change” that will benefit everyone or anyone who feels unrepresented in the NFL.