The NFL has released a statement refuting former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ claims that he was discriminated against during the hiring process for a head coaching job with the New York Giants.
“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,” reads the statement form the NFL. “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.”
Flores has filed a lawsuit over the matter and is seeking unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants, as well as unspecified individuals.
A key part of Flores’ case is reportedly centered around a text he received from Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck. Flores was rumored to have been a finalist for the job opening with the New York Giants, but that team ultimately decided to hire Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who like Flores is a former assistant of Belichick.
In the lawsuit, Flores says Belichick accidentally let him know via text that the Giants had already chosen Daboll, three days before Flores was set to interview. Flores’ suit refers to the interview as a “sham.”
Among other claims in the lawsuit, Flores also alleges that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each loss during the 2019 season, in which Ross wanted to shore up the league’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft.
Ross also allegedly invited Flores to his yacht and asked him to recruit a prominent quarterback who was already under contract with another team. Flores said he left the boat before the quarterback arrived.
During an interview Wednesday evening on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Flores said he understands what suing the league could mean for his career, but also said the move was part of a larger agenda in standing up for Black coaches and players in the league.
“We don’t have enough Black coaches in leadership positions, specifically in the NFL,” Flores said. “And to me that’s a disservice to the majority of the players that are in the league…that they don’t see that as a position that they can achieve.”
The NFL currently employs just one Black head coach, Mike Tomlin, across all 32 teams. Tomlin has one of the highest winning percentages of any active had coach.
When asked about the Flores’ situation, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters via the USA Today that diversity in hiring is “an area, one of many, that we can do better. The area has some good attention. This is obvious if you look through that that the league and coaches are trying to improve there.”
Jones went on to say that the fact that the issue is being talked about is a positive.
“I think the fact that it’s an issue shows not only the league’s willingness to address and do better,” Jones said. “I think the fact that it’s being discussed as to how the Rooney Rule or what drives the Rooney Rule could be better. In the case of coach Flores’ complaint, he’s saying it could be better and the processes create positive result for the league.”