Free-agent NFL head coaching candidate Brian Flores is suing the league and three teams, the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, over hiring practices.
According to the complaint, Flores is alleging race discrimination when it comes to coaching personnel decisions in the NFL. Among many complaints, the lawsuit chides the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to conduct at least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for all head coaching vacancies.
“However, well intentioned or not, what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working,” the complaint reads.
Currently there is only one black coach in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. There are 32 teams in the league.
Flores, who is black, coached the Miami Dolphins through the 2021-22 season, being dismissed last month after a three-season tenure.
The lawsuit recounts a recent episode, indicating it occurred during the New York Giants hiring process. It provides screenshots of text messages said to have been sent by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to Flores, mistakenly congratulating him for getting the Giants coaching job. Flores, a Brooklyn native who played collegiately at Boston College, had not even interviewed for the Giants job yet, and was expected to meet with club management in the coming days.
Other texts indicate that Belichick meant to send his messages to Brian Daboll, not Brian Flores.
Assuming the screenshots are accurate, it would indicate that the Giants had already made a decision to make Brian Daboll, who is white, their next head coach, before interviewing Flores.
Flores’s attorneys called this a “humiliating act of alleged racism.”
“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.”
The NFL released a statement following the allegations from Flores on Tuesday.
Flores is represented by Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis of the New York law firm Wigdor LLC.