On Tuesday, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, claiming racial discrimination in the league's hiring practices. In addition to the NFL, the lawsuit names the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants as co-defendants.
Why The Giants Are Named In The Lawsuit
Regarding the Giants, the lawsuit (which can be seen here) claims that the team already offered Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll taking the job before Flores' interview with New York. In a text exchange with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Flores found out that the Giants' job was already Daboll's before Flores met in person with new Giants' general manager Joe Schoen. The text exchange was a mistake as Belichick thought he was texting Daboll and not Flores after Belichick congratulated Daboll on the job. Below are the screenshots of the text conversation between Belichick and Flores. Warning: There is graphic language in the exchange.
Brian Flores says he found out the Giants were hiring Brian Daboll as HC from Bill Belichick’s texts.
These screenshots were included in Flores’ lawsuit filed Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/Og8v60q3Kc
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2022
Daboll was introduced as the 20th head coach of Giants' history on Monday.
The Giants released a statement regarding the lawsuit.
"We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll. We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach."
The Rooney Rule Is Not Working
The NFL is always attempting to enforce "The Rooney Rule," which says each team must interview three minority candidates (two external, one internal). The lawsuit claims that Flores was used to satisfy the rule even though the job reportedly was already Daboll's. The Giants interviewed defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, both African-American candidates.
"The Rooney Rule is also not working because management is not doing the interviews in good faith, and it therefore creates a stigma that interviews of Black candidates are only being done to comply with the Rooney Rule rather than in recognition of the talents that the Black candidates possess.," said the lawsuit.
Inside the lawsuit are damming stats regarding minority hiring in the National Football League. Remember that 70 percent of the league's players are African American.
- Only 1 of the NFL's 32 teams (3%) employs a Black Head Coach
- Only 4 of the NFL's 32 teams (12%) employ a Black Offensive Coordinator
- Only 11 of the NFL's 32 teams (34%) employ a Black Defensive Coordinator
- Only 8 of the NFL's 32 teams (25%) employ a Black Special Teams Coordinator
- Only 3 of the NFL's 32 teams (9%) employ a Black Quarterback Coach
- Only 6 of the NFL's 32 teams (19%) employ a Black General Manager
The Rooney Rule has been a point of contention since its inception in 2003. The idea that teams would be forced to interview minority candidates seemed wrong for owners who would ultimately want to hire whom they wish to. However, over the years, the most qualified minority candidates would be passed over in favor of retread white coaches time after time.
The lawsuit also stated that Dolphins' owner Steven Ross offered Flores $100,000 per loss if Miami tanked games to improve their draft standing. Flores was fired after this season as tales of insubordination and a power struggle were reported after the firing. The Dolphins released a statement after the lawsuit was announced.
"We are aware of the lawsuit through the media reports that came out this afternoon. We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time."
What This Lawsuit Means Long Term For The NFL
This lawsuit was years in the making. The NFL has been attempting, whether in good faith or lip service, to get minorities hired throughout the ranks of organizations. The problem remains that NFL owners are not interested in The Rooney Rule. They, along with general managers, will hire who they are comfortable with and that most of the time, are not minority candidates.
This lawsuit comes when so far in 2022, four of the nine open head coaching positions have gone to white men. That leaves five jobs open…five jobs that become pawns in the NFL's game to offset this lawsuit. How far will the NFL go to get public opinion back on their side? Could there be mass minority hires to satisfy the masses?
However, Brian Flores has a chance to change the trajectory of the NFL's hiring practices and create an even playing field that does not exist in the National Football League right now.
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