Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the Dolphins, claiming racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process for coaches and executives.
Flores alleges in the lawsuit that the NFL is racially segregated and “managed much like a plantation.” Its 32 owners, none of whom are Black, profit from the labor of its players, 70 percent of whom are African American, NPR reported.
Flores, 40, also claims the NFL discriminates in hiring Black coaches and executives. As evidence, he included texts he said are from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. At the time, Flores was set to interview with the Giants for the head coach position. So he was confused when Belichick sent him a text congratulating him on getting the job, Flores told CNN in a Feb. 2 interview. When Flores informed Belicheck he had yet to have an interview, the coach told Flores he had heard he was a shoo-in. Flores thanked him for the news.
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Then in a later text, Belichick apologized, saying he had misread the information, and that actually the Giants intended to hire Brian Daboll as head coach.
This set off the lawsuit. How can the NFL claim it is practicing fair hiring when it already selected Daboll, who is white, before Flores was even interviewed?
“It’s hard to speak out…but this is bigger than football. This is bigger than coaching,” Flores told CBS.
Flores told CNN he felt “humiliated” after Belichick told him he had not actually been selected. He decided to file the suit on Feb. 1 because of his children, he said.
“I have two sons, eight and seven. I got a 5-year-old daughter. when I look at them, I don’t want them to go through some of the things I have had to go through,” he told CNN.
Flores and Belichick go way back. Flores spent 15 seasons as a scout and assistant in New England under Belichick before heading to the Dolphins as head coach in 2019. Flores was fired on Jan. 10 after three seasons.
According to the court papers, Flores accuses Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100,000 each time the team lost to tank for the No. 1 draft pick during the 2019 NFL season, Yahoo reported.
The NFL responded to Flores’ lawsuit in a statement that said the suit was “without merit” while defending its hiring practices. The statement read, “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.”
Jay-Z has come under fire since his Roc Nation entertainment company inked a deal with the NFL to produce the half-time show for the Super Bowl. Roc Nation’s press conference announcing the deal failed to mention Colin Kaepernick, who was blackball by the NFL due to his kneeling protest to shine a light on police brutality against Black people. The 2021 halftime show featured Shakira and Jennifer Lopez and a separate performance by The Weeknd.
For the 2022 halftime show, Roc Nation is pulling out a majority-Black lineup featuring legendary hip-hop and R&B acts Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem.
For some this will be a distraction and a sham show of diversity.
“Hit them with that Roc Nation halftime, they forget all about the politics” tweeted Jamarlin Martin, CEO of The Moguldom Nation.
Dr. Chad Williams, a professor and chair of the Department of African & African American Studies at Brandeis University, weighed in on Flores, the NFL and the halftime show: “Brian Flores: ‘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: NFL: ‘Nothing to see here. Just watch the amazing Jay-Z approved Super Bowl halftime show with Dr. Dre!'”
Many applauded Flores’ lawsuit.
“Brian Flores’ action in filing today’s lawsuit reflects the courage & sacrifice of so many civil rights plaintiffs who are willing to challenge racial discrimination in the courts. It’s never easy, & we owe them our respect for their willingness to use this path to make change,” tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“Oh wow, Brian Flores suing the NFL and NY Giants, alleging racism in hiring,” tweeted Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.
“Kudos to you, Mr. Flores. He’s basically just given up any chance to be an NFL head coach again to do what’s right,” tweeted Sports Illustrated’s commentator Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano).
“Brian Flores telling hard truths is this lawsuit,” tweeted Dead Spin writer Chuck Modi, who describes himself as a “justice journalist.”
Others wondered where the Black coaches were when players were speaking out.
“When Black players in the NFL were protesting systemic white supremacism and police terrorism, Black coaches were silent. Maybe it was out of fear of losing their jobs, but look at the situation now. Had they (the Black players and coaches) worked together…” tweeted L E F T, PhD.
L E F T, PhD added, “Why would NFL owners, who are 99% wealthy white men, care about a Rooney Rule, when Black folks in the NFL couldn’t even present a united front against players protesting the police killing Black folks from the very neighborhoods that many of them grew up in?”
The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coach and general manager openings. Adopted in 2003, the rule is named after Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former chairman of the league’s diversity committee.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 67: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the NFL’s entertainment and “social justice” deal with Jay-Z. We look back at the Barclays gentrification issue in the documentary “A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay-Z.”
Photo: Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the field before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)