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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: the Brian Flores lawsuit

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GRAPHIC: CHRIS KLINE ’23/THE HAWK

Who is Brian Flores?

Brian Flores is an NFL coach who most recently served as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019 to 2021. Flores was fired after back-to-back winning seasons, including a 2021 season where he brought the Dolphins back from a 1-7 start to finish 9-8. In a statement issued after Flores’ firing, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross “determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be.” 

Flores’ last season with the Dolphins marked the first time in NFL history when a team had both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season. 

Flores was born to Honduran immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. He played as a linebacker for Boston College’s football team and later worked for the New England Patriots as a scouting assistant, pro scout and then on the coaching staff. 

Why is he suing the NFL?

After he was fired, Flores filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 of its teams for racial discrimination against him and other Black coaches in the hiring process. Flores claims in the lawsuit that the New York Giants brought him in for a “sham” interview in order to fulfill their quota for the Rooney Rule (see below), as well as make it appear that a Black candidate had a chance at the job. Flores also claims in the lawsuit that Denver Broncos president of football operations, John Elway, showed up late and hungover to his interview for their head coaching position in 2019. Finally, he claims in the lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him an extra $100,000 incentive for each game the team lost in 2019.

What is the Rooney Rule?

The Rooney Rule, introduced in 2003, requires all teams to interview a minimum of two candidates from historically marginalized groups outside their organization for any vacant head coaching position as well as at least one candidate from historically marginalized groups from outside their organization for any vacant offensive, defensive or special-teams coordinator positions. 

How did Flores find out he was not getting the Giants job?

The most substantial piece of evidence that Flores has for his lawsuit is a chain of text messages that he exchanged with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, whose coaching staff Flores worked on from 2008 to 2018. 

On Jan. 24, Belichick texted Flores congratulating him on apparently getting the head coaching job in New York. Belichick, however, appeared to have texted the wrong Brian. He seemingly meant to text the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, Brian Daboll, who also served on Belichick’s staff from 2000-2006 and 2013-2016 and was actually hired for the Giants’ vacancy. 

Belichick appeared to finally recognize his mistake when he said “Sorry — I [expletive] this up. I double-checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. Sorry about that. BB.” 

Flores had yet to have his second interview with the Giants. From the texts with Belichick, it seemed as if the Giants had already made the decision that Daboll was their next head coach. Flores told CBS Sports that the interview was humiliating and “a sham,” saying it was an instance where people were using him to check a box.   

How have the NFL and the accused parties responded?

Elway, Ross, the Giants and the NFL have all adamantly denied Flores’ accusations. The NFL responded to Flores’ claims shortly after they were made, saying that they are “deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices” and “we will defend against these claims, which are without merit.” 

The Giants said, “The specific claims against the Giants and Mr. Flores’ allegations about the legitimacy of his candidacy for our head coach position are disturbing and simply false.” They also claim that the allegation of hiring Daboll before Friday Jan. 28 is false. Elway claimed Flores’ accusations were “subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong,” while Ross called them “false, malicious and defamatory.”

What’s next? 

Flores takes his class action lawsuit to federal court. The suit will either gain class certification or will become an individual claim. Flores must get past a motion to dismiss by the NFL to reach the discovery phase of litigation and ultimately reveal documents that could support his case.

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