Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

NFL wants to take Brian Flores’ lawsuit into arbitration

The NFL and various teams named in Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit said in a court filing Thursday that they intend to file a motion to compel the case into arbitration.

Flores’ lawyers said in a statement to multiple media outlets that the move would rob the case of much-needed public transparency.

“We have said from the start that if the NFL wants to create change, the first step is to allow for transparency,” attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said in a statement. “The NFL’s attempt to force these claims into arbitration demonstrates an unmistakable desire to avoid any public accountability and ensure that these claims are litigated behind closed doors in a forum stacked against our clients.

“We will fight this request in court, but Mr. Goodell should have done the right thing, disclaimed arbitration altogether and allowed this case to be tried before a jury representing a cross-section of the community, just like those who watch football.”

Flores, now a defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins following the 2021 season, his third year in the role. He claims he was fired for not cooperating with owner Stephen Ross’ plans to “tank” or to tamper with a “prominent quarterback” who was under contract elsewhere.

He had an interview for the New York Giants’ vacant coaching job, but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick mistakenly told him over text that Brian Daboll had been chosen before Flores could interview. Flores’ lawsuit also accused Denver Broncos executives John Elway and Joe Ellis of acting unprofessionally during a “sham” interview for their head coaching job in 2019, even appearing drunk in their meeting.

The league and teams have denied all of Flores’ allegations. The NFL hired former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch to represent it in the proceedings.

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and longtime assistant coach Ray Horton, who like Flores are Black, joined the class-action suit earlier this month, bringing their own accusations of racial bias in their careers.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Attorneys: Brian Flores turned down Dolphins NDA to speak out

Attorneys for Brian Flores said that he left millions of dollars on the table by declining to sign a two-year non-disparagement agreement presented by Miami Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross last month.

Flores and his attorneys, Doug Wigdor and John Elefterakis, were interviewed by Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s “Real Sports.” The episode will air Tuesday night.

“To Coach Flores’ credit, he wasn’t going to sign that, because… it wasn’t about the money,” Wigdor told Gumbel. “If it was about the money, he would have signed it. What he did instead was he filed this lawsuit so that he could help other coaches, now… and in the future.”

Instead of signing the NDA, Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three teams in particular — the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos — for racial discrimination in hiring practices. In Flores’ lawsuit, he alleges — among other claims — that Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each loss in an attempt to secure a top draft pick. Ross has denied those allegations.

“Just signing that separation agreement would have really silenced me,” Flores told Gumbel.

The Dolphins released a statement Tuesday evening calling Flores’ claim “categorically false.”

“This just did not happen and we simply cannot understand why Brian continues this pattern of making unfounded statements that he knows are untrue,” the statement said. “We are fully cooperating with the NFL investigation and look forward to all of the facts coming out which we are confident will prove that his claims are false and defamatory.”

Flores, 40, was fired by the Dolphins in January after a 9-8 season and third-place finish in the AFC East.

Wigdor added in the interview: “If a coach is terminated with a couple years or a year left on their contract, they don’t get paid unless they sign a waiver, an NDA, confidentiality and non-disparagement. So, they buy their silence.”

Flores also told Gumbel that he hasn’t spoken to Bill Belichick since the Patriots coach mistakenly sent Flores a congratulatory message on getting the Giants’ head coaching job. The message was sent before Flores interviewed for the job and was intended instead for Brian Daboll, who ended up getting the position. That text message exchange is at the crux of Flores’ lawsuit.

Earlier this week, Flores was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach earlier this week. Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin — one of the league’s two Black head coaches — said Flores’ resume “speaks for itself.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers add Brian Flores to coaching staff

The Pittsburgh Steelers named Brian Flores as their senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach on Saturday.

Flores spent 15 years in a variety of roles with the New England Patriots (2004-18) before serving as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins (2019-21). He was fired by the Dolphins in January despite leading the team to back-to-back winning seasons.

“I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”

Flores, who is Black, has filed a class-action lawsuit against three teams and the NFL for racial discrimination. Along with the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and New York Giants were named in a suit filed earlier this month.

The 40-year-old served as a scouting assistant, pro scout, special teams assistant and coach, defensive assistant and worked with the safeties and linebackers during his time with the Patriots.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFL hires ex-AG Loretta Lynch for Brian Flores lawsuit

The NFL has tapped former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch to represent it in the discrimination case filed earlier this month by Brian Flores, Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday.

Flores, fired in January as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, is suing the NFL and three teams. Flores, who is Black, contends the league, along with the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants, discriminated against him.

Lynch served as attorney general for nearly two years during the Obama administration. She is now a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the firm’s chairman, Brad Karp, is working with her on the NFL case, Bloomberg Law reported.

Lynch has worked with the NFL before. In late 2020, she was part of the team investigating allegations of workplace misconduct within the Washington franchise.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith walks off the field after the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texans GM: Brian Flores’ lawsuit had no impact on hire

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said Tuesday that the lawsuit filed by Brian Flores last week had no impact on the team’s decision to hire Lovie Smith over the former Miami Dolphins coach.

Caserio made the comment during the press conference to introduce Lovie Smith as the Texans’ new head coach. Caserio directly refuted an assertion made by Flores’ attorneys that Smith was hired over Flores because of the class-action lawsuit.

“I would say it didn’t affect us at all,” Caserio said. “Speaking specific to Brian, I’ve known Brian a long time personally and professionally. I have a lot of respect for Brian as a coach and a person. He was a part of this process. He’s been a good coach in this league for a number of years. Part of my responsibility was to spend time with as many quality candidates as possible and Brian was one of those.”

Caserio, forced to speak over a fire alarm that went off in the middle of his comments, said he had conversations with Flores after the lawsuit was filed.

“A lot of it was me taking a lot of information, processing a lot information … and ultimately arriving to an endpoint that I felt made the most sense for our organization and that’s what we did,” Caserio said.

Hours after news broke Monday that Smith was the Texans’ choice, Flores’ attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis put out a statement on Twitter, saying Houston avoided hiring Flores because of the lawsuit.

“Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores’ goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL,” the statement read. “However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL.”

Caserio also refuted assertions that the team planned to hire Josh McCown until Flores’ lawsuit, then reversing course in the interest of optics.

“There were never plans to hire anybody until we arrived at kind of an endpoint,” Caserio said in response to a direct question about McCown.

It’s unclear what role, if any, McCown will have within the organization. He was considered a finalist for the job along with Flores and Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Smith was considered a late finalist.

“Fair or not, you guys can blame me for taking as long as we did, because everybody was kind of sitting on the end of their chair on pins and needles, but again, my responsibility is to the McNair family, to be as thoughtful and resourceful as possible, and ultimately it’s to just make the right decision for the organization, and that’s where we ended up with Lovie,” Caserio said.

Smith’s hire gives the NFL just two Black head coaches (Mike Tomlin) and five minority head coaches overall, joining Ron Rivera, Robert Saleh and new Miami coach Mike McDaniel, who is multi-racial.

“Well, I don’t know nothing about the lawsuit,” Smith said. “I realize the amount of Black head coaches that are in the National Football League. There’s Mike Tomlin, and I think there’s me. I don’t know of many more. So there’s a problem. … But after there’s a problem, what are you going to do about it? … I always think it comes down to action a little bit. I know one person that wanted to do something about it — it’s just not about the color of your skin or who you wanted leading your program. I know Cal and Hannah (McNair), of course, they said … there’s a problem, this is what we’re gonna do for it. I’m here.”

Smith confirmed that Pep Hamilton will be the Texans’ offensive coordinator and calling the plays while Smith continues to call the defensive plays.

“I understand the problem. I know the Houston Texans are doing something about it to make it better,” Smith said.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during a AFC Divisional playoff football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Goodell to NFL teams: Head coach diversity ‘unacceptable’

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL will re-examine policies regarding head-coach diversity in the league, saying its efforts have yielded “unacceptable” results.

In a memo sent to all 32 teams Saturday morning, he also said matters involving “the integrity of the game” must be addressed.

Goodell’s memo comes days after former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, charging an interview he had with the New York Giants was a “sham” intended to meet diversity hiring rules. Flores also alleged he had been offered money by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to intentionally lose games to secure a better draft position.

Both teams have denied the allegations.

Flores’ lawsuit got the attention of Goodell, however, even though a league statement said Tuesday that the NFL said the suit was “without merit.”

“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote. “We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable.”

After the January firings of Flores and David Culley with the Houston Texans, the NFL has one Black head coach – Mike Tomin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the nine head-coaching vacancies, five have been filled so far, all by white men.

Goodell said the league will examine existing policies and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusion and will hire outside experts to help in the review. Current and former players and coaches will be among those asked for input.

“Our goal is simple: make our efforts and those of the clubs more effective so that real and tangible results will be achieved,” Goodell said.

Goodell also said the league will examine “integrity” issues, without directly mentioning Flores’ pay-to-tank charges.

“These matters will be reviewed thoroughly and independently. We expect that these independent experts will receive full cooperation from everyone associated with the league or any member club as this work proceeds,” Goodell said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Giants issue robust denial of Brian Flores’ ‘disturbing’ allegations

The New York Giants released an expanded statement Thursday aiming to discredit what Brian Flores has said as part of a class action lawsuit regarding their hiring process to fill their head coach opening.

“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,” Thursday’s new statement said, in part.

The Giants initially issued a short statement Tuesday when news of Flores’ lawsuit broke, pushing back on the former Miami Dolphins coach’s assertion that the team did not take him seriously as a candidate to be their head coach.

Flores decided to file suit after New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick — thinking he was texting Brian Daboll — purportedly told Flores that he had heard the Giants had settled on Daboll before Flores’ interview. The Giants pushed back on that idea in Thursday’s statement, saying Belichick’s text exchange also preceded Daboll’s in-person interview.

“The allegation that the Giants’ decision had been made prior to Friday evening, January 28, is false,” the statement said. “And to base that allegation on a text exchange with Bill Belichick in which he ultimately states that he ‘thinks’ Brian Daboll would get the job is irresponsible. The text exchange occurred the day before Coach Daboll’s in-person interview even took place. Giants’ ownership would never hire a head coach based only on a 20-minute zoom interview, which is all that Mr. Daboll had at that point.

“In addition, Mr. Belichick does not speak for and has no affiliation with the Giants. Mr. Belichick’s text exchange provides no insight into what actually transpired during our head coaching search.”

Flores is Black, and only one NFL team currently has a Black head coach — Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The league’s Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview at least two external minority candidates for head-coaching jobs, is under scrutiny as some believe teams are only interviewing minorities to check a box.

The Giants claimed owner John Mara reached out to Flores two days after the Miami Dolphins fired him as coach following three seasons at the helm. They reiterated that the hiring team thought he was “an outstanding candidate.”

“Our hiring process and, most certainly, our consideration of Mr. Flores was serious and genuine,” the Giants said Thursday. “We are disappointed to learn that Mr. Flores was under the mistaken impression the job had already been awarded.”

Hours after Flores’ lawsuit made headlines Tuesday, New York put out an initial statement saying the club was “pleased and confident with the process” that led them to hire Daboll, the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator.

“The fact of the matter is, Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour,” the Giants said then. “Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Brian Flores among finalists for Texans opening

Brian Flores remains in the running for two NFL head-coaching positions after filing a class action lawsuit against the league and its 32 clubs for discriminatory hiring practices.

Flores, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and retired NFL quarterback Josh McCown are the finalists for the Houston Texans’ vacant position, multiple reports said Thursday.

Flores, who also interviewed for the New Orleans Saints’ job and remains a possibility there, filed suit Tuesday to allege, among other things, that the New York Giants had already decided to hire Brian Daboll as their next coach before Flores’ interview took place.

Flores is Black, and only one NFL team currently has a Black head coach — Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The league’s Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview at least two external minority candidates for head-coaching jobs, is under scrutiny as some believe teams are only interviewing minority candidates to check a box.

The Miami Dolphins fired Flores after the 2021 season despite Miami finishing with a winning record in back-to-back seasons. In his suit, Flores alleged that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted the team to tank in 2019 and offered the coach $100,000 per loss.

The Dolphins, Giants and the league have denied Flores’ accusations.

Flores said Wednesday he informed the Texans and Saints of his intentions to file the suit.

The Texans fired coach David Culley — who is also Black — after one season, in which he produced a 4-13 record amid a rebuilding year.

Gannon and McCown are white. Neither candidate has been a head coach before, but previous reports had indicated that Houston especially favored McCown, who played 16 NFL seasons for nine teams in a journeyman career.

Gannon, 39, just completed his first season as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA;  Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

John Elway: Brian Flores’ claims against Broncos ‘false and defamatory’

John Elway said Brian Flores was a serious candidate for the Denver Broncos’ coaching job when he interviewed in January 2019 — contrary to what Flores charged in a discrimination lawsuit filed this week against the NFL.

In his lawsuit, Flores called the interview with Denver’s brass a “sham” and said he was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate.

In a statement issued Thursday to The Denver Post, Elway — now president of football operations — said Flores’ statements were false.

“While I was not planning to respond publicly to the false and defamatory claims by Brian Flores, I could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked.

“I took Coach Flores very seriously as a candidate for our head coaching position in 2019 and enjoyed our three-and-a-half hour interview with him. Along with the rest of our group, I was prepared, ready and fully engaged during the entire interview as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team.

“It’s unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him.”

The Broncos hired Vic Fangio. The Miami Dolphins hired Flores and fired him last month after the team went 9-8 in 2021.

Fangio also was fired following the 2021 season. The Broncos replaced him with Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

In his lawsuit, Flores also said the New York Giants conducted a “sham interview” before hiring Brian Daboll last week, and he alleged Dolphins owner Steven Ross offered him money to lose games to improve the team’s draft stock. Both parties denied the allegations.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Flores files class action lawsuit against NFL, 32 teams

Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants and every other NFL franchise alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices.

The suit, filed on the first day of Black History Month, begins with an errant text message from New England coach Bill Belichick congratulating who he thought was Brian Daboll on getting the Giants job. However, it was Flores he was texting with, three days before Flores interviewed with the team.

In addition to the NFL and Giants, the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos are named as defendants along with John Doe Teams 1-29.

Flores also alleges he was fired by the Dolphins for not tanking in 2019, his first season, and for not violating the league’s tampering rules when owner Stephen Ross arranged a meeting between Flores and a “prominent quarterback.”

The suit was filed in United States District Court Southern District of New York. Flores is represented by Wigdor Law and the firm of Elefterakis, Elefterakis & Panek.

In the suit, the firms show screen grabs from Flores’ phone showing text messages between he and Belichick.

“I hear from Buffalo & NYG that you are their guy,” Belichick purportedly texted Flores, mistaking him for Daboll.

“Sorry — I f***** this up,” Belichick texts once Flores clarifies which Brian he’s texting with. “I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that.”

“Mr. Flores was forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the Giants’ new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll,” the lawsuit says. “Much worse, on Thursday, January 27, 2022, Mr. Flores had to give an extensive interview for a job that he already knew he would not get — an interview that was held for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Flores is considered a finalist for the Houston Texans opening and also reportedly interviewed with the New Orleans Saints.

“God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals,” Flores said in a release put out by the law firm representing him in the case. “In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

The Broncos are specifically named in the suit for their “sham interview” with Flores in 2019.

“It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job,” the suit reads.

Then there are the allegations lobbed against Ross and the Dolphins.

The suit alleges Ross offered to pay Flores $100,000 for every loss in the 2019 season. The team started 0-7 but finished 5-11, then being told by general manager Chris Grier that Ross was “mad” at Flores for “compromising (the team’s) draft position.”

“After the end of the 2019 season, Mr. Ross began to pressure Mr. Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of League tampering rules. Mr. Flores repeatedly refused to comply with these improper directives,” the suit reads.

Ross then set up a meeting on his yacht between Flores and the unnamed QB, but Flores left.

“After the incident, Mr. Flores was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with,” the suit reads. “From that point forward, Mr. Flores was ostracized and ultimately he was fired.

“He was subsequently defamed throughout the media and the League as he was labeled by the Dolphins brass as someone who was difficult to work with. This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes.”

The Giants released a response to Flores’ allegations Tuesday afternoon.

“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the Giants said. “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.”

–Field Level Media