Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said his racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL is “bigger than coaching” and that he recognizes the case may cost him a future in the league.
Flores and his attorneys appeared on CBS Mornings to discuss the bombshell case, which names the NFL, the Dolphins, the New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants. (Watch the full interview above.) Structured as a class-action, the complaint also notes that “John Doe Teams 1-29” could also become defendants if other plaintiffs were to join with Flores. In its response, the NFL said the case is “without merit” and that it would fight it in court.
“We didn’t have to file a lawsuit for the world to know there’s a problem from the hiring standpoint with regard of minority coaches,” Flores said. “The numbers speak for themselves. We filed a lawsuit so that we could create some change. And that’s important to me. I think we’re at a fork in the road right now. We’re either going to keep it the way it is, or we’re going to go in another direction and actually make some real change.”
After Flores was fired last month despite two straight winning seasons, he was considered for other coaching vacancies. The suit alleges that he was only interviewed as “sham” exercise due to the league’s “Rooney Rule.” Flores said he has come to see the process as “checking the box,” a hollow gesture at racial equality. Named after the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rule requires teams to interview minority candidates. While the intent of the 19-year-old provision is to boost minority coaches, just three of 32 NFL head coaches are non-white, including just one who is Black, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. That’s a notable decline in just the past three years.
The complaint asserts that the league is “run like a plantation,” with 70% of rosters occupied by Black players but few opportunities in head coaching, management or ownership. One explosive allegation is that Flores was texting with New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, who congratulated him for being hired as the Giants head coach — three days before he was scheduled to interview. Belichick, according to the suit, had intended to text Brian Daboll, who is white and was named to the Giants job.
When he uncovered the miscue, Flores said he felt “a range of emotions – humiliation, disbelief, anger. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am.”
When the Belichick exchange happened, Flores and his attorneys were in touch with CBS Mornings, whose hosts include former NFL player Nate Burleson.
As he mulled whether to move forward with the suit, Flores recalled, “It was a difficult decision and I went back and forth.”
As much as he loves coaching, Flores concluded, “This is bigger than coaching.”
John Elefterakis, one of two attorneys representing Flores, criticized the NFL’s response to the suit. The league is “denying and saying they’ll defend,” he said. “What was absent from their response to the 60-page complaint with serious allegations from a decorated head coach was, how about, ‘We’ll investigate,’ ‘we’ll look into this, ‘we’re troubled by this.’ Immediate ‘no,’ denial, disregard and defend.”
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