Following the news that former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was suing the NFL for racial discrimination in its hiring process, the league put out a statement saying the claims made by Flores were “without merit.”
Saturday morning, the message from commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams certainly appeared to be singing a different tune.
Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values. We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable. We will reevaluate and examine all policies, guidelines and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusion, including as they relate to gender. We are retaining outside experts to assist in this review and will also solicit input from current and former players and coaches, advocates and other authorities in this area. Our goal is simple: make our efforts and those of the clubs more effective so that real and tangible results will be achieved.
We understand the concerns expressed by Coach Flores and others this week. While the legal process moves forward, we will not wait to reassess and modify our strategies to ensure that they are consistent with our values and longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. In particular, we recognize the need to understand the lived experiences of diverse members of the NFL family to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity and is treated with respect and dignity.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all clubs this morning regarding coaching diversity and admitted “the results have been unacceptable.” pic.twitter.com/Hyhwu0mEJY
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 5, 2022
In the class-action suit filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Flores sued the NFL and several teams, naming the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants, and the Dolphins, for racial discrimination in the NFL’s hiring process.
In the suit, Flores makes the claim that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pressured Flores to “tank” during the 2019 season, to the point that Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each loss during the season. He also claims that “Mr. Ross began to pressure Mr. Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of League tampering rules” at the end of the 2019 season.
Flores was fired as head coach of the Dolphins in January, following two winning seasons as head coach in Miami. It was the first back-to-back winning seasons for the organization since the 2003 season.
Flores claims that as a result of refusing to recruit the quarterback, he was “treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.” The suit alleges that the Dolphins labeled Flores as “difficult to work with” through the media.
“This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes,” the suit states.
Flores also alleges that the Giants interviewed him while already intending to hire Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirements.
The suit shows text messages between Flores and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in which Belichick informs Flores that the Giants had decided to hire Daboll before New York conducted their interview with Flores. Belichick apparently believed he was texting Daboll instead of Flores.
Flores also alleges that in a 2019 interview for the Broncos head coaching position, “then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview.”
“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had [been] drinking heavily the night before,” the suit continues. “It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”
Flores put out a statement on Tuesday saying that he was “standing up against systemic racism in the NFL” by filing the suit.
“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,” Flores said in a release put out by the Wigdor firm. “In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love and 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 Broncos, Giants, and Dolphins have all denied the allegations.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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