A former NFL coach is suing the league over allegedly racist hiring practices
And he has the receipts.
The end of every NFL season always ushers in a host of personnel changes across the league, but none were more shocking than the recent dismissal of Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. To most of the football world’s surprise, Flores was fired in January after just three seasons at the reins, despite having posted the Dolphins’ first back-to-back winning records since 2003.
Now, Flores has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, claiming racial discrimination not only in hiring practices related to him, but other Black coaches across the league. The suit alleges, in particular, discriminatory treatment from three teams — the Dolphins, the New York Giants, and the Denver Broncos — in a revealing 58-page filing.
Flores claims that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross instructed him to “tank” — play non-competitive teams to obtain a higher position in the draft — after he was hired in 2019, and allegedly offered him $100,000 for every game the Dolphins lost. The relationship frayed, and the filing says that Flores was “treated with disdain” after he began winning games and skirted around involvement with Ross’s supposed attempts at tampering with potential draftees. He also claims that the Giants and Broncos essentially treated him as a diversity checkbox, interviewing him only to satisfy the league’s Rooney Rule, an official NFL policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation positions.
In 2019, Broncos GM John Elway allegedly showed up an hour late and self-admittedly hungover to Flores’s interview for the head coaching job. More recently, the suit details an incident with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (who Flores worked with for over a decade), in which Belichick mistakenly texted Flores and inadvertently revealed that Flores’s upcoming interview with the new Giants GM, Joe Schoen, was meaningless.
Belichick had texted Flores that he had heard from “Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy,” days before Flores had an interview scheduled with Schoen. When Flores asked Belichick if he had meant to text Bills offensive coordinator Brian Doball, who was also interviewing and was indeed ultimately named the Giants head coach, Belichick wrote back, "Sorry -- I f---ed this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I'm sorry about that.”
Flores’s lawsuit is not only meant to address the skewed treatment he received, but also details specific areas he hopes the league will begin to address, including incentivized hiring of more Black GMs, coaches, and coordinators, along with pay transparency across those positions.
“I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me,” Flores said in a statement. “My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the N.F.L., others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”
The league has responded quickly to news of the lawsuit, refuting Flores’s claims in an official statement: “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. 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.”