Here are some of the notable passages in Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL
Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores initiated a federal class-action lawsuit Tuesday, alleging the NFL still discriminates against Black candidates for head coaching and other positions.
The 58-page document names the league and three teams — the Dolphins, the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos — as defendants and the remaining 29 teams as John Does.
The document castigates the culture of the NFL and the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview two external minority candidates for head coaching positions. The lawsuit says the rule hasn’t worked to increase hiring of coaches of color.
The suit accuses the Giants of interviewing Flores, who is Black, for a head coaching job after the team decided to hire Brian Daboll so it would be in compliance with the Rooney Rule.
Flores was subjected to another “sham interview” with the Broncos in 2019, the lawsuit claims.
The suit also accuses Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of treating Flores with “disdain” and portraying him as “someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with” after Flores refused to purposely lose games to secure a higher draft pick.
The NFL and all three teams deny wrongdoing.
Here are some of the notable passages from the claim, which could be amended if plaintiffs are added.
Unusual introduction includes quote from MLK
In a twist to the format of a lawsuit, attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor, Michael J. Willemin and David E. Gottlieb begin with two quotes — one included in case evidence (from a Bill Belichick text) and one from civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
“Morals cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. The law cannot make an employer love me, but it can keep him from refusing to hire me because of the color of my skin.”
The lawsuit draws a slavery comparison
In a Netflix docuseries, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick compared the NFL draft to slavery, and the Flores lawsuit also invokes a slavery analogy.
“In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation. Its 32 owners — none of whom are Black — profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% 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.”
NFL execs not acting in good faith with Rooney Rule, claim says
The lawsuit says interviews with Black candidates are done to satisfy the Rooney Rule.
“The Rooney Rule may have been well intentioned, although it is hard to attribute benevolence to the NFL given the complete lack of action that it has taken post-Rooney Rule to remedy discrimination that it admits exists. However, well intentioned or not, what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working. It is not working because the numbers of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and Quarterback Coaches are not even close to being reflective of the number of Black athletes on the field. The Rooney Rule is also not working because management is not doing the interviews in good-faith, and 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.”
The civil claim says coaching pipeline replete with racism
The document cites the NFL’s Diversity & Inclusion Report that looked at diversity between 2012 and 2021. It said 80% of the men hired to be head coaches were previous offensive or defensive coordinators.
“According to the study, 31 out of 62 Head Coach positions were filled by Offensive Coordinators (where Black professionals are the most under-represented) while 18 Head Coach positions were filled by Defensive Coordinators. Moreover, only three out of 32 teams have a Black Quarterbacks Coach, which is the position that most often leads to an Offensive Coordinator opportunity. This figure is not entirely surprising given the NFL’s history of racism when it comes to the quarterback position.
“This shows that not only are the NFL’s Head Coaches predominantly white, but that the pipeline feeding this racial disparity is fraught with discrimination. This is indicative of the structural discrimination that pervades NFL teams and likely ensures that this problem will remain.”
Lawsuit brings up Kaepernick and NFL ‘lip service’ to solidarity
The document devoted a section of 11 paragraphs to the former NFL starter.
“As time went on, still no team would sign Mr. Kaepernick for any role, starter or backup, despite the fact that he clearly deserved such a role based on merit, skill and experience.
While some owners gave lip service to solidarity with Black players, NFL owners still collectively refused to employ Mr. Kaepernick following his racial justice protests.”
The lawsuit says culture has not improved
“Rules have been implemented, promises made — but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.”
The league and teams respond
The NFL called the allegations in Flores’ lawsuit meritless.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations, the league said in a statement. “Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”
The Giants defended the decision to hire Daboll, saying in a statement, “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.”
The Broncos strongly challenged the lawsuit, saying, “The allegations from Brian Flores directed toward the Denver Broncos in today’s court filing are blatantly false.”
“Our process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position,” the team’s statement continued. “The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization — and its employees — from such baseless and disparaging claims.”
Via the Dolphins’ organization, team owner Ross released a statement denying Flores’ claims.
“With regards to the allegations being made by Brian Flores, I am a man of honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding. I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory,” Ross said.
“We understand there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully. I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”
The Dolphins told CNN in a statement, “We are aware of the lawsuit through the media reports that came out this afternoon. We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization.
“The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”
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