Among the incendiary allegations in a bombshell class action lawsuit from the former Miami head coach are racist hiring practices across the league in mockery of the Rooney Rule.
UPDATE 2/13: Per ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, Flores’ legal filing is to be amended to include an allegation that the Houston Texans refused to hire him as head coach in retaliation to the original news of the lawsuit.
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL on Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month. Specifically naming the Dolphins, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos, the suit claims that the leagues hiring practices remain racially discriminatory — and specifically asserting the NFL is racially segregated and “managed much like a plantation”— with Black and minority head coaching candidates consistently given sham interviews by teams already set on hiring white candidates.
The topline allegations in the lawsuit include:
- Racist hiring practices that make a mockery of the Rooney Rule
- Blatantly tanking for draft picks, including through the use of financial incentives from managrement
- Roster tampering in violation of the CBA
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin remains the one and only Black NFL head coach, though five teams currently have vacancies. Flores claims that he’s gone through sham interview processes, was mistreated by Dolphins ownership and that racism is rampant in the league’s hiring processes.
“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,” paragraph four of the preliminary statement reads.
Flores, represented by Wigdor Law, references a text message he received from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick three days before a scheduled interview for the Giants’ head coaching position informing him that Brian Daboll had already been selected for the job.
The suit claims that the Rooney Rule, established in 2003 mandating teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior managerial positions, has only made matters worse.
There is currently just one Black head coach, four Black offensive coordinators, and 11 Black defensive coordinators in the league.
“In fact,” the suit claims, “the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.”
When interviewing for the Denver Broncos’ head coaching position in 2019, Flores claims senior management, including Hall of Fame quarterback and former GM John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis, didn’t take his interview process seriously, bringing in Flores simply to satisfy the Rooney Rule. He additionally alleges that Elway and Ellis appeared as if they had been “drinking heavily the night before.”
Denver ultimately went with Vic Fangio, a white coordinator, who was fired at the end of the 2021 season.
Flores alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss during the 2019 season to help them get a better draft pick and was mad when Miami kept winning. Additionally, he accuses Ross of tampering regarding a rival team’s quarterback.
Despite knowing that this will likely end his head coaching prospects, Flores said in a statement that this suit is still worth filing.
Boardroom has reached out to league representatives for comment on this story, but has not received response as of press time.
UPDATE 6:10 p.m. ET: Statement from the Denver Broncos:
UPDATE 5:33 p.m. ET: Statement from the NFL, which includes characterizing Flores’ claims as being “without merit”:
UPDATE 4:45 p.m. ET: Statement from attorneys representing Brian Flores:
UPDATE 4:27 p.m. ET: Statement from the New York Giants: