Flores is suing the NFL, teams, alleging racism in hiring

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Brian Flores has sued the NFL and three teams – the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants – alleging discrimination regarding his interview processes with Denver and New York and his firing last month by Miami.

The 58-page lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday seeking the status of class action lawsuits.

In it, Flores claims that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to encourage him to “refuel” or intentionally lose fights, shortly after he was hired in 2019, when Ross allegedly offered Flores $ 100,000 for every loss that season. Flores says that when the team won games late in the season, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier told him that Ross was “crazy” that Flores’ success on the field “compromised [the team’s] draft position. “

Additionally, Flores claims that Ross pressured him to recruit a “prominent quarterback” at the end of the 2019 season, which Flores denied for not violating the NFL’s rules on tampering. Ross then reportedly invited Flores on a yacht for lunch in the winter of 2020, where he informed him that the quarterback “conveniently” arrived at the marina for an impromptu meeting.

Flores again rejected the meeting and left the yacht. Afterwards, Flores claims he was “treated with contempt and endured as someone who was incompatible and difficult to work with.”

He was eventually fired on January 10, 2022, despite recording the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003 (10-6 in 2020; 9-8 in 2021).

Flores also claimed that the Giants interviewed him last month for their vacant head coach for no reason other than compliance with the NFL’s Rooney rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for their vacancies. The league has changed this rule in recent years and now says teams must hold a personal interview with at least one external minority candidate for any general manager or head coach who opens.

Flores claimed he spoke to the Giants via Zoom on January 18 before the team hired former Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen as its GM on January 23. He says the day after, Schoen completed his interview date for January 27th. , and Giants co-director of player staff Tim McDonnell texted Flores, saying he hoped he would “come in and win the job.”

But hours later, Flores’ lawsuit claims, I received a series of text messages from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, during which Flores worked for 10 years in New England. In these texts, Belichick told Flores that he had heard from “Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy.”

Flores then asked Belichick to clarify whether he intended to speak to him or Brian Daboll, who was also in the running for the Giants’ job. Belichick then admitted his mistake and informed him that the Giants wanted Daboll.

“Sorry – I got this up. I double-checked and misread the text. I think they name Brian Daboll. I’m sorry,” Belichick wrote.

Flores claims that his interview with the Giants on January 27 – which met the Rooney rule when he was the first minority candidate to interview in person – was a “scam”. New York officially hired Daboll, the former Bill’s offensive coordinator, a day later.

Flores also claims that a similar scenario occurred when he interviewed the Broncos for their job as head coach in 2019. Flores says that then-Denver general manager John Elway, among others, arrived at the interview an hour late and was a hangover – as he claimed . they had “drunk a lot the night before.”

The Giants, Dolphins and Broncos responded separately to the allegations later Tuesday.

The Giants said they are “satisfied and confident” with the hiring process.

“We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates,” the team said. “The thing is, Brian Flores was in the conversation about being our head coach until the eleventh hour. In the end, we hired the person we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach.”

The dolphins “strongly” denied the allegations against them, noting that they are “proud of the diversity and inclusion of our entire organization.”

“The indication that we acted in a way that was inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect,” the team said.

And the Broncos detailed their Jan. 5, 2019, interview with Flores, saying it started promptly at 6 p.m. 7:30 in Providence, RI, lasted 3½ hours and was completed with five team leaders.

“Pages with detailed notes, analyzes, and evaluations from our interview demonstrate the depth of our conversation and sincere interest in Mr. Flores as the head coaching candidate,” the team said. “Our process was thorough and fair to find the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position.

“The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values ​​of our organization – and its employees – from such baseless and derogatory claims.”

Denver eventually hired Vic Fangio for the position.

In the lawsuit, Wigdor Law LLP, the firm representing Flores, said the coach hopes to “shed light on the racial injustices that are taking place in the NFL.”

Among the areas Flores said he would like to see addressed:

• Increase the influence of black people on employment

Increase the “objectivity of” hiring / firing GMs, head coaches and coordinators

• Increase the number of black coordinators

Motivate the hiring / retention of black GMs, head coaches and coordinators

• Salary transparency for GMs, head coaches and coordinators

The lawsuit also calls for unspecified compensation from the league, which responded to the lawsuit later Tuesday.

“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring fair hiring practices and continue to make progress in providing equal opportunities throughout our organizations,” the statement said. “Diversity is at the heart of everything we do, and there are few issues that our clubs and our internal management team spend more time on. We will defend ourselves against these claims, which are unjustified.”

Flores, who turns 41 later this month, had also been tied to vacant head coaches at the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints since his firing by the Dolphins. New Orleans interviewed him for his position as head coach on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett.

“God has given me a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is greater than my personal goals,” Flores said in a press release issued by the Wigdor company. “When I make the decision to file a class action lawsuit today, I understand that I may risk training 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 takes place in future generations. “

Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for Flores, told The New York Times that the Wigdor Law LLP is investigating allegations from other coaches that could be part of the lawsuit. He noted that Flores contacted the company the same day he received the Belichick text message.

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