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2 Feb, 2022 08:58

Black coach claims NFL is ‘managed like plantation’ as he sues for discrimination

Brian Flores is suing the NFL and three of its teams, alleging discrimination after his firing by the Miami Dolphins
Black coach claims NFL is ‘managed like plantation’ as he sues for discrimination

Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is suing the team after his firing last month while also taking legal action against the NFL and two other teams – the New York Giants and Denver Broncos – over alleged racial discrimination in their recruitment practices.

A lawsuit filed at a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday states that Flores wants to “shine a light on the racial injustices that take place inside the NFL.”

“In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Its 32 owners – none of whom are Black – profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% of whom are Black.

“The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars.”

Flores, 40, was fired by the Dolphins last month despite leading the franchise to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003.

Flores claims that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to bribe him to purposely lose games during the 2019 season, allegedly offering him $100,000 per loss.

Ross was supposedly “mad” that the team won games late in the season because it was comprising its position in the 2020 draft.

Flores also alleges that Ross tried to pressure him into recruiting a “prominent quarterback” at the end of the 2019 season by means which would supposedly have been in breach of the NFL’s rules on tampering.


The Dolphins aren’t the only target of the legal action.

After his firing, Flores alleges that his interview with the Giants for their head coach vacancy last month was a “sham” conducted purely to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview ethnic minority candidates.

Flores shared an alleged text message exchange with Patriots icon Bill Belichick – with whom he worked for a decade in New England – in which the veteran coach congratulates him on getting the job at the Giants.     

Seemingly surprised as he was yet to formally interview, Flores asked Belichick to clarify whether he meant him or Brian Daboll, who was also in contention for the position.

“Sorry – I f**ked this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that,” Belichick responded.

Flores claims that is evidence that the Giants were set on hiring a white candidate, Daboll, before they had even spoken with him.  

Flores alleges a similar situation played out when he interviewed with the Broncos for their head-coaching job in 2019, before joining the Dolphins.  

Flores claims that then-Denver general manager and NFL legend John Elway arrived at the interview an hour late, “completely disheveled” and hungover because he and others had been “drinking heavily the night before.”

The Giants and the Broncos have both denied the allegations.

The New York team said they “interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates” and that Flores was a viable candidate who had been in the running “until the eleventh hour.”

The Broncos, who eventually hired Vic Fangio for their vacant position, said they will “vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization – and its employees – from such baseless and disparaging claims.”

Flores’ former employers the Dolphins said they 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,” the team said.

Flores is being represented by Wigdor Law LLP, and in the statement filed with the federal court the coach says he is aiming to enact change in a league which currently has only one black coach – Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“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 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.”