Brian Flores Attorneys Call NFL Commissioner Statement A PR Ploy, Not Commitment To Change

Attorneys for Brian Flores, the ex-Miami Dolphins coach who is filing a class action suit against the league for not making a greater effort at recruiting minority coaches, have responded to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement concerning diversity and inclusion.   

The Flores complaint (read it HERE) is a proposed class-action case naming the league, the Dolphins, the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos as defendants. “John Doe teams 1-29” also are named, which could enable other class-action participants to target additional teams.

The lawsuit’s timing could not be worse for the league, which is gearing up for the Feb. 13 Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

The NFL has issued a statement on the allegations of racial discrimination, saying they are “without merit.” In its full statement, the league said: “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. 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.”

Attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor, Wigdor LLP, and John Elefterakis, EEP Law, took issue with that assessment by the NFL.

 “Unfortunately, immediately after Coach Flores filed the class action lawsuit, the NFL and various teams reflexively, and without any investigation, denied the detailed allegations set forth in the 60 page complaint.  As a result, when we spoke to the national media the following day we made clear that the NFL should view this class action lawsuit as an opportunity to engage in real change and confront the obvious reality.”

Although Team Flores said the statement “is, on the surface, a positive first step,” they added, “but we suspect that this is more of a public relations ploy than real commitment to change.”

“The NFL is now rolling out the same playbook yet again and that is precisely why this lawsuit was filed.  We would be pleased to talk to the Commissioner about real change, but unfortunately he has not reached out to us to engage in such a discussion. In fact, nobody from the NFL has reached out to us. Absent such a discussion followed by unbiased and concrete change, we believe that a court or governmental agency must order a federal monitor to oversee the NFL as the NFL cannot continue to police itself.”

In a related matter today, New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, a Black man who was under consideration for the head coaching job at the Minnesota Vikings, said he’s leaving for a parallel coordinator position with the Las Vegas Raiders. Graham had two interviews with the Vikings, and the Giants indicated they wanted to retain him under new head coach Brian Daboll. But Graham opted for a fresh start after his longtime friend, Joe Judge, was fired by the Giants.


Flores was fired by the Miami Dolphins at the end of the season, a surprising move. He was considered for numerous head coaching vacancies after that, but has, so far, failed to close any of the interviews.

He had a 24-25 record in three seasons with the Dolphins. The team started the season 1-7 but won seven straight games after that and eight of their last nine. However, they did not make the playoffs.

Flores alleges that his participation at subsequent job interviews was a sham engineered as part of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule.” Named for Art Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rule came into effect nearly 20 years ago, requiring that teams interview minority candidates during every head coaching search.

Despite the rule, however, a league whose player rosters are 70% Black currently has just one Black head coach, Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh. (Ron Rivera, an American of Puerto Rican descent, is head coach of the Washington Football Team.)

Dade Hayes contributed to this report.


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