Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Sues NFL Over Racial Discrimination in Hiring Process

© Sam NavarroBrian Flores Miami Dolphins Head Coach
Brian Flores Miami Dolphins Head Coach - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.02.2022
Brian Flores has filed a class action complaint against the National Football League (NFL), the New York Giants, the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the 29 other teams in the league for racial discrimination in the hiring process of team executives and coaches.
The 58-page complaint details a long NFL history of racial discrimination, Brian Flores’ experience as a Black head coach and head coaching candidate, and the experiences of other Black coaches and candidates. The suit seeks to reclaim an unspecified amount, “to compensate them for all non-monetary and/or compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, loss of reputation, loss of opportunity and mental anguish.”

The complaint states: “Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organizations (the “Teams”) have been given every chance to do the right thing. Rules have been implemented, promises made—but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.”

“Mr. Flores has determined that the only way to effectuate real change is through the Courts, where the NFL’s conduct can be judged by a jury of Mr. Flores’ peers. A judgment that is long overdue."

The complaint details the statistical discrepancy between the NFL’s player population and its coaching, executive, and ownership population, as it pertains to race. According to the complaint, while 70% of NFL players are Black, one out of 32 head coaches (3%), four out of 32 offensive coordinators (12%), 11 out of 32 defensive coordinators (34%), 8 out of 32 special teams coordinators (25%), three out of 32 quarterbacks coaches (9%), and six out of 32 general managers are Black (19%).
The suit alleges, “This is not by chance. Rather, the statistics above and those described throughout this Complaint are the result of race discrimination.”
The NFL’s own internal assessment of its shortcomings in this regard are also mentioned. It cites the NFL’s implementation of the Rooney Rule and its expansion as proof of implicit bias. The Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview a minority candidate for many coaching and executive openings.
The complaint cites that racial bias in the NFL has been used to limit the distribution of settlement money to Black retirees suffering from traumatic brain injuries linked to football to further illustrate their argument.

“According to a lawsuit filed by former Black NFL players Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, as well as media reports, the NFL began regularly insisting that physicians use 'race-norms' in determining whether a retiree had suffered cognitive impairment (the “Race Norming Lawsuit”). When Black retirees were deemed to be cognitively impaired, the NFL regularly appealed such determinations if race-norming was not used,” the complaint reads.

The complaint drew from the Race Norming Lawsuit, which stated: “When being evaluated for the Qualifying Diagnoses of Neurocognitive Impairment, Black former players are automatically assumed (through a statistical manipulation called ‘racenorming’) to have started with worse cognitive functioning than white former players. As a result, if a Black former player and a white former player receive the exact same raw scores on a battery of tests designed to measure their current cognitive functioning, the Black player is presumed to have suffered less impairment, and he is therefore less likely to qualify for compensation.”
The complaint chronicles Brian Flores’ recent coaching experience. Flores coached the Miami Dolphins from 2019 to 2021 and alleges that the team owner, Stephen Ross, instructed him to intentionally lose games during the 2019 season to improve their draft position. He reportedly offered Flores $100,000 per loss. The Dolphins, after starting the season 0-7, won five of their final nine games, and their second-half success allegedly angered Ross.
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Flores also alleges that Ross pressured him on multiple occasions to break the league’s tampering rules to try and attract a star quarterback. He states that his reluctance and refusal eventually led to his firing. After which he alleges that the Dolphins slandered his name by labeling him “difficult to work with.”
A text message from Bill Belicheck, the current New England Patriots head coach, whom Flores worked under for many years, erroneously suggested that Flores would be the next head coach of the New York Giants. Belicheck later realized he had mistaken Brain Daboll for Brian Flores in a text.
“Sorry - I f****d this up. I double checked & I misread the text. I think they’re naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB,” Belichek sent to Flores through text.
The mishap from Belichek led Flores to believe that his candidacy for the New York Giants head coaching position was never seriously considered. Flores was scheduled to interview for the job three days after he received the text from Belichek.
Daboll was announced as the head coach of the Giants on January 29.
The complaint brought up Flores’ experience interviewing for the Denver Broncos head coaching position. He claims that in the 2019 interview, executives showed up an hour late and appeared to have been hungover.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in the United States Court Southern District of New York.
The NFL released a statement categorically denying the complaint and claimed that accusations were “without merit.”
The Miami Dolphins also released a statement, saying they “vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination.”
Brian Flores, through his legal team, also released a statement on the complaint.
“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. 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.”
Brian Flores was fired at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season after leading the Miami Dolphins to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2003 and finishing the season winning eight of the team’s final nine games.
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