The Miami Dolphins fired head coach Brian Flores after this past season despite the team winning eight of its last nine games to finish the year with a winning record at 9-8. Flores was widely considered the top head coaching candidate on the open market this offseason, but he still hasn’t landed a job. Now the 40-year-old coach has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and each of its 32 franchises alleging racial discrimination in the hiring process.
After Flores and Houston Texans head coach David Culley were both fired at the start of this offseason, the NFL is down to only one Black head coach in Mike Tomlin. The NFL’s “Rooney Rule” requires teams to interview minority candidates at head coach, but Flores’ suit alleges teams haven’t used the rule in good faith.
James Dator has a full breakdown of the most explosive allegations in the lawsuit. It includes one extremely cringeworthy text exchange with legendary New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick texted Flores congratulating him landing the New York Giants’ open coaching job. Flores tells Belichick he hasn’t even interviewed for the position yet, but will do it in a few days. Belichick says he’s heard from the Giants and Buffalo Bills that Flores is their guy. And that’s when Flores figures it out: Belichick must have meant to text Brian Daboll, the Buffalo offensive coordinator who did land the Giants job.
Here’s what the text thread says:
Belichick: Sounds like you have landed — congrats!!
Flores: Did you hear something I didn’t?
Flores: I interview on Thursday
Flores: I think I have a shot at it
Belichick: Got it — I hear from Buffalo & NYG that you are their guy. Hope it works out if you want it to!!
Flores: That’s definitely what I want! I hope you’re right coach. Thank you
Flores: Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll? Just making sure.
Belichick: Sorry — I fucked this up. I double-checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. Sorry about that. BB
Flores: Thanks Bill
The issue here is that the Giants already decided on who they would hire as head coach days before Flores even had the opportunity to interview.
It seems like an honest mistake by Belichick, but this is still incredibly frustrating for Flores. An NFL team with a head coaching opening had an extremely qualified Black candidate scheduled for an interview, but had already made up their mind to hire someone else before he got a real chance. This happened despite the league having a rule meant to prevent this sort of thing, and despite the fact that the league had received criticism for Tomlin being its only Black coach. It’s incredibly insulting from Flores’ perspective.
The NFL obviously has systemic issues when it comes to hiring Black coaches and executives. This is another terrible look for the league.