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Black Coach accuses NFL of ‘systemic racism’ in hiring practices


“In a 58-page complaint, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is suing the NFL and three teams in it, saying they had discriminatory hiring practices and that the league is “rife with racism.” The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, is seeking class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants. 

Flores said the league has discriminated against him and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them multiple coaching, and coordinator positions. Calling the NFL racially segregated, Flores’ lawsuit said the league 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,” Flores said. “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.”

Flores, 40, had led the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years but was fired by the Dolphins last month. His lawsuit, which points out that Flores led the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2003, said Flores’ dismissal from that team is typical for Black coaches who are not given the opportunities other coaches receive to succeed in the NFL.

During a recent interview on CNN, Flores said he was inspired by his own children to file the suit, and he hopes it will bring change to the NFL.

“When I look at them, I don’t want them to go through some of the things I’ve had to go through, and I know that was the same for people who came before me as well,” Flores said.

According to a statement released by his lawyers, Flores said his 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.”

Responding to Flores, the NFL said diversity is “core to everything we do.”

‘There are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time,” The NFL said. “We will defend against these claims which are without merit.”

Flores also claimed in the lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100,000 per loss for a better draft position during the 2019 season and that he has received chilly treatment from the team since he refused. The Dolphins “vehemently” denied any allegations of racial discrimination.

Flores referenced another example of discrimination in the lawsuit when the New York Giants disclosed to third parties they decided to hire someone else as a new coach before they had a scheduled meeting with Flores. As a candidate for the Giants’ head coaching job, Flores alleges, he received a text mistakenly sent by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick saying the Giants filled their coaching position three days before Flores was scheduled to interview for the job. The Giants said in a statement they are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in their ultimately hiring Brian Daboll to be a head coach.

Another team Flores mentioned was the Denver Broncos. He accused them of making him undergo a “sham interview.” Flores’ suit claims the Broncos’ then-general manager John Elway showed up an hour late for a meeting they had in 2019 over a vacancy, and that Elway appeared to be hungover. Flores said it was clear from the interview that he was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to talk to minority candidates while filling head coaching and senior football operations vacancies. The Broncos deny these claims.

With both Flores and the former Houston Texans head coach David Culley let go this season, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin is the lone Black head coach left in the entire NFL. According to Flores’ lawsuit, only four of the NFL’s teams have a Black offensive coordinator, and only 11 employ a Black defensive coordinator.


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