Brian Flores Blasts the NFL and the ‘Sham Rooney Rule Process’ in 58-Page Scathing Class Action Lawsuit

Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores, on Tuesday, filed a 58-page class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against the National Football League, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and Doe defendants, which include the remaining NFL teams.

Mr. Flores cited the adopted ‘Rooney Rule’ as a ‘Sham’ and included significant text message exchanges between New England Head Coach Bill Belichick  which was inadvertently sent to Mr. Flores, rather than Brian Daboll, who ultimately was awarded the New York Giants head coaching position. Mr. Flores detailed the alleged systemic racism problem within the NFL Head Coaching hiring cycle, as well as the 2016 Colin Kaepernick matter, which ultimately settled out of Court.

Mr. Flores alleged that, “Since its passage, the Rooney Rule has been amended several times in an effort to strengthen its impact on diversity and inclusion, or to at least appear to do that. It now applies to General Manager and other front office positions, as well as Assistant Head Coach and Coordinator positions. Moreover, teams are now required to interview two minority Head Coach candidates, and at least one in person. However, the Rooney Rule has failed to yield any meaningful change to an institution so fully steeped in discriminatory practices.”

“In the 20 years since the Rooney Rule was passed, only 15 Head Coaching
positions have been filled by Black Candidates. During that time, there have been approximately 129 Head Coaching vacancies. Thus only 11% of Head Coach positions have been filled by Black candidates—in a league where 70% of players are Black. With few exceptions, the Black candidates who have obtained Head Coach positions have been on a “short leash” and lasted for extremely short periods, while white candidates have much lengthier opportunities to prove their worth. In addition, upon information and belief, in general Black coaches at all levels are paid less than similarly qualified white coaches,” the lawsuit alleged.

Stunningly, Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, Mr. Flores’ prior employer allegedly told Mr. Flores that he would pay him “$100,000 for each game lost that year. Then, when the Dolphins started winning games, due in no small part to Mr. Flores’ coaching, Mr. Flores was told by the team’s General Manager, Chris Grier, that “Steve” was “mad” that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was “compromising [the team’s] draft position,” according to the Complaint

The complaint cites other areas of discriminatory hiring practices within the NFL, including the New York Giants who have churned out coaches each two years, as well as the case of former Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell, who “had an aggregate record of 36-28, a winning percentage of .563—the best winning percentage of any Lions Head Coach since the 1950.”

Steve Wilks, former Arizona Cardinals head coach, David Culley, the one-year head coach for the Houston Texans, the lack of opportunities for former Seattle and Dallas defensive coordinator Kris Richard, and, the most high profile offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs were all used as illustrations of the allegations of blatant, overt racism within the NFL, which the lawsuit cites.

The class action complaint encompasses Mr. Flores, as well as, “All Black Head Coach, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators and Quarterbacks Coaches, as well as General Managers, and Black candidates for those positions during the applicable statute of limitations period.”

The allegations brought by Mr. Flores and the Class are damning to the NFL, and include purported violations of Discrimination under Section 1981, Discrimination under New York State Human Rights Law, Discrimination under New Jersey Law against Discrimination.

Mr. Flores is seeking a declaratory judgment that the actions, conduct and practices violate the laws of the United States and the State and City of New York, and the State of New Jersey, an award of injunctive relief , an award of unspecified damages and to compensate the class for all monetary and/or economic damages, and an award of punitive damages.

The NFL responded shortly after the lawsuit was filed with a generic denial, stating,”​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,” the league’s statement said. “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.”

This is a breaking story, and will continue to be updated when new information is ascertained.

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