Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, filed a class-action lawsuit on Feb. 1 against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the Miami Dolphins, claiming racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process against coaches and executives.
In his lawsuit, Flores accused the New York Giants of interviewing him for their vacant head coach job under “sham” circumstances. Three days before the interview, Flores received a congratulatory text message from one of his old bosses in New England that was intended for Brian Daboll. Daboll got the Giants coaching job.
While Flores is taking his fight to the courts, there has long been a complaint that the NFL is run like a “plantation,” as Flores has noted. A majority of players are Black but there are few Black head coaches and executives. When the NFL froze out quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he kneeled during the National Anthem to protest police brutality, there were many complaints but no action.
When the NFL inked a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment company to produce the Super Bowl halftime shows, many saw the move as a distraction from criticism over the way Kaepernick had been treated.
Here are 10 things to know about Brian Flores, the coach taking on the powerful NFL cartel and their Jay-Z strategy.
He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York to Honduran immigrant parents. The family lived in the then-crime-ridden Brownsville neighborhood.
“My parents immigrated here in the ’70s, and they came here to build a better life for me, my brothers, and my entire family,” Flores said in 2019. “They worked hard, extremely hard. We didn’t grow up with a lot but what I did grow up with — and I feel like this is lost in a lot of the stories — is that I had a great childhood.”
He realized his knack for football in high school and continued through college while attending Boston College. An injury stopped him from playing in the NFL.
Instead of playing in the league, he began coaching.
When he was just 23, Flores joined the New England Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2004. He became a pro scout in 2006 before getting promoted to Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in 2008. Belichick is now general manager of the Patriots. He worked his way up to assistant coach offense/special teams in 2010. By 2011, he was named defensive assistant. The following year, he was named safeties’ coach, a position he kept for four years. Flores was named linebackers’ coach ahead of the 2016 season.
On Feb. 4, 2019, the Miami Dolphins introduced Brian Flores as the team’s 13th head coach.
“Two things that stand out immediately when you meet Brian are his football intelligence and leadership skills,” Dolphins’ general manager Chris Grier said. “Brian is widely respected throughout the NFL … Brian sets a high standard for his players and coaches, and we are completely aligned with our vision on how to build a successful organization.”
Even though Flores led the Dolphins in back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in almost 20 years, the team fired him on Jan. 10, 2022. Flores had two years left on his contract.
On Feb. 1, 2022, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, Broncos, and Giants organizations, alleging racial discrimination. Besides the “sham interview,” he had other accusations. Flores alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pressured him to tank (deliberately lose games), offering him $100,000 for each game he lost in order for the Dolphins to get better draft picks for the following season.
Flores’ lawsuit states that he is seeking changes in the NFL including:
Flores, 40, told CNN his three children are part of the reason he filed the lawsuit.
“I have two sons, 8 and 7. I have a 5-year-old daughter,” he said. “When I look at them, I don’t want them to go through some of the things I have had to go through.”
According to Flores, he’s never backed down from a battle worth fighting.
“I was tested many times,” Flores told ESPN in 2018. “I never backed down from anybody. If people see you’re scared, or as somebody who backs down, you’re going to deal with it every day. That was my thing. I didn’t back down from anybody or any situation. Football, school, anything.”
Flores told CNN that Black people in many fields feel pressure to be exceptional. The NFL is no exception.
Roughly 70 percent of the NFL players are Black, yet there is only one Black current head coach.
“I would say I felt similar pressures that Black people feel in all fields, not just football,” he said. “That we have to do more, that we have to be better, that we have to be exceptional just to stay on a level playing field.”
“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. In making the decision to file the class action complaint, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game I love (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 team said Flores’ lawsuit is without merit. The NFL said the league is “deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices” and that “diversity is core to everything we do.”
Here is the statement from the Giants:
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“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll. We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach.”
According to Flores’ suit, the “Sham interview” he was subjected to violates federal and state civil/human rights statutes intended to ensure equal rights. Flores has also said he will file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
By taking legal action, Flores said it will surely end his NFL coaching career, but it has to be done. By all accounts he will not take the Jay-Z route. When faced with backlash over the Kaepernick kneeling protests, the NFL made a show of hiring Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment company to produce its coveted Super Bowl halftime shows. For his part, Jay-Z failed to speak out for Kaepernick and was seen making nice with the NFL higher-ups and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Meek Mill even bought billionaire New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a new Bentley for his 80th birthday.
Photos: Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, left, Dec. 5, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z, Aug. 14, 2019, in New York. (Ben Hider/AP Images for NFL)