Brian Flores sent shockwaves through the NFL last week when he filed a lawsuit against the league and three of its teams over the treatment of black coaches. Flores alleges that the New York Giants decided on a coach before interviewing him to satisfy the Rooney Rule. He also claims the Denver Broncos conducted an unprofessional and sham interview to satisfy the Rooney Rule. Finally, he says the Miami Dolphins, his recent employer, attempted to pay him to lose games on purpose to get a better draft pick and then lied to him about the reason he was fired following the 2021 season. It’s a lot to unpack, so let’s go over some of the key parts of the lawsuit and what it could mean for the NFL.
Is There Evidence?
It’s almost unanimous among legal experts that Flores will have difficulty proving most of his claims. Granted, text messages accidentally sent to Flores by Bill Belichick paint the Giants into a corner. However, the Broncos have refuted Flores’ claims and explained why he might have misinterpreted their interview. More importantly, it remains to be seen if Flores will be able to present clear evidence that the Dolphins attempted to bribe him into losing games on purpose. The Dolphins were 19-14 over the last two seasons, nearly missing the playoffs both years, so Flores clearly didn’t go along with any alleged offer. That could make it harder to prove that an offer was on the table. Even if everything Flores alleges is true, proving it in a court of law may not be realistic.
Will This Go to Court?
It’s far from a given that this lawsuit will even end up going to court. In fact, the NFL has lawyers that will do everything they can to keep this from going to court. In similar instances, such as Colin Kaepernick’s lawsuit or the lawsuit related to concussions, the NFL was able to settle long before the case got to court. Needless to say, it’s in the NFL’s best interest to deal with Flores’ lawsuit as quickly as possible. Even if the case is able to reach the discovery phase, many believe the league would be fearful about having to turn over confidential information that could point to systemic discrimination of Black coaches based on race. Potentially, the league could payout a huge settlement to prevent any of that information from getting out.
What’s the Point?
If this case isn’t going to get to court, what is Flores hoping to accomplish with this lawsuit? On the surface, he may appear to have a vendetta against the Dolphins and the league after getting fired. However, it seems like he’s more intent on being the person that brings about meaningful change in the NFL when it comes to Black coaches. In fact, the lawsuit itself states that he wants to increase the number of black coordinators in the league and the “objectivity” by which GMs, coaches, and coordinators are hired and fired. The suit also aims to give Black employees in organizations more influence in hiring decisions while also incentivizing the hiring and retention of Black GMs, coaches, and coordinators.
In short, Flores’ lawsuit is an attempt to get the NFL to cure itself of the systemic racism that has existed for a long time. Merely by filing the lawsuit, Flores risks getting another job with an NFL team, potentially sacrificing his career for the greater good. That’s a clear sign that Flores means business with this lawsuit, even though it’s impossible to deny that he faces an uphill climb to accomplish anything meaningful and long-lasting with the lawsuit.
During media sessions for Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roder Goodell said violating the competitive integrity of the game “won’t be tolerated.” So if that’s proven, Stephen Ross will likely be forced to sell the Dolphins.