Brian Flores’ Attorneys Ask Judge To Rule That “Biased” Roger Goodell Cannot Oversee Any Arbitration

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is suing the NFL for alleged discrimination, is asking a Judge to rule that Roger Goodell cannot preside over a potential arbitration.

The coach’s attorneys motioned to the court in October arguing against commissioner Roger Goodell overseeing the arbitration and calling him biased.

“Defendants are asking Your Honor to be the first Court in the history of United States jurisprudence to find that a clearly biased arbitrator — one who is the chief executive of the defendant and already said the “claims … are without merit” — can preside over statutory employment discrimination claims,” Flores’ filing states.

The NFL and Roger Goodell responded to the motion by explaining that the commissioner is a direct employee of the league and that he can handle the arbitration process without being biased.

“Plaintiffs are flatly wrong that he either cannot or will not treat them fairly, and they have not remotely made the required showing,” the NFL’s attorneys wrote. “The NFL has an overriding interest in combating racism, as it has repeatedly affirmed through its statements and actions. … If the Commissioner showed bias against Plaintiffs, it would undermine not only that interest but also the League’s interest in upholding its system of internal dispute resolution.”

Flores is currently working as a senior defensive assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He filed a class-action lawsuit against the Dolphins, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and the NFL claiming that the Rooney Rule is a sham. The rule was enacted by the league to ensure more diversity and equal opportunities in its hiring process and requires a certain number of minority applicants be interviewed for coaching positions. However, Flores claims he was never seriously considered for several jobs and his interview was a mere formality to satisfy the rule.

Current Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks also joined Flores in the lawsuit and the two believe that this is bigger than just disciplining a team.

“But such decisions are a far cry from a determination that the NFL as an institution and its member clubs have engaged in longstanding discriminatory conduct towards an entire class of Black coaches and executives,” the reply from October adds.

The judge could be making a decision in the next few weeks but it will be more likely that the decision will be made in the next couple of months. If it goes to arbitration, Goodell would hear any football-related disputes and choose the discipline.

Flores has been a coach in the NFL since 2008, starting his pro coaching career with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for ten seasons. Flores was initially the special teams assistant for two seasons, before being promoted to offensive assistant and special teams coach in 2010. In 2011, Flores began coaching the defensive side of the ball. The coach first became a defensive assistant before transitioning over to coaching the safeties from 2012-15. He then finished out his tenure with the Patriots as the linebackers coach from 2016-2018. In those 11 seasons under Bill Belichick, the Patriots went to the playoffs 10 times, won the division 10 times, went to five Super Bowls, and won three Super Bowls.

He then became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2019 and coached them for three seasons. Flores became the fourth Latino in NFL history to become a head coach. In his three seasons as the head coach of the Dolphins, he went 24-25 with no playoff appearances. But in the 2021 season, the Dolphins ended their season winning seven of the last eight games of the season for a winning season of 9-8. Flores had two consecutive winning seasons to end his run as the head coach. It was their first winning season since 2016.

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