Tuesday was an interesting day for me. Hell, it was an interesting day for the NFL. For starters, it was the first day of media events for the 2022 Senior Bowl. Par for the course, a bevy of NFL coaches, scouts, agents, and reporters made the trip to Mobile, AL this week. And I was one of them. After all, I cover the Detroit Lions. And their staff is coaching the American team in Saturday’s game. Another interesting tidbit that day came from the Pat Bowlen Trust, the Denver Broncos ownership. They announced they’re beginning the process of selling the franchise. Two big happenings on the same day, right? Nevertheless, everything paled in comparison to what Brian Flores had up his sleeve.
As I am at Hancock Whitney Stadium watching the American team practice, an alert came across my phone. I had to blink twice. I had doubts that I read it correctly. The news I read was jarring. I quickly went to Twitter, and the fire was already in full blaze.
On Tuesday afternoon, news broke that Brian Flores, the recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach, is using the NFL and the New York Giants for alleged racism in hiring practices.
Wait, what? Where did this come from? What transpired?
To be clear, my shock came from Flores filing the suit, in general, not the reason. After all, it’s not a secret the NFL has a diversity problem on its hands within the head coach ranks.
Out of 32 NFL teams, Mike Tomlin, as of now, is the only Black head coach. And that’s in a league where over 70% of it’s players are Black.
As I began to read the details of Flores’ suit, confusion and disgust came over me.
Let’s start with Bill Belichick. In Flores’ suit, Belichick, who’s his former boss with the Patriots, accidentally sent him a text, congratulating him on landing the New York Giants job. The problem is that Belichick sent this text several days before Flores’ interview with the Giants. Furthermore, that text wasn’t meant for him. It was meant for another Brian––Brian Daboll, that is, whom the Giants eventually hired.
Normally, this would be damning enough. It’s a story in its own right. How does Belichick know whom the Giants are hiring? He’s the coach of the Patriots. The Giants interview process technically wasn’t complete. Where did his intel come from? Lastly, how did he mistakenly text the wrong Brian? These questions need answers.
To make matters worse, the most eye-grabbing part of Flores’ suit involves Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross. Flores states that Ross offered to pay him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season so the franchise could increase its chances of getting a higher pick in the upcoming draft. Additionally, Flores alleges Ross was upset when the team kept winning.
For reference, during that 2019 Dolphins season, the Dolphins lost the first seven games of the season, but won five of the last nine, finishing 5-11.
I was speechless after reading this. It took me a minute to digest those details. After doing so, I had many thoughts.
The first one was how proud I am of Brian Flores. Regardless of the Dolphins dismissing him, he’s in the prime of his coaching career. He’s also pretty young. He turns 41 in about three weeks. With head coaching positions still open, there was still a chance an NFL team could have hired him in that role. Instead of waiting for that chance, he took a stand. He did what he felt was right. And get this, he filed the suit knowing that his coaching career in the league might be over.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross talks with Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, October 18, 2020.
Dolphins Owner Stephen M Ross 78
What a way to start Black History Month, right?
My second thought was regarding the NFL. Within less than two hours of Flores filing the suit, the league categorically denied his allegations as being without merit. How in the heck would they know that? They’ve spent more time than that investigating previous incidents from NFL teams. Does DeflateGate, SpyGate, or BountyGate ring a bell? Granted, the league had to speak. Common sense dictates that. However, how quickly they did it was pretty distasteful. At minimum, they could’ve acknowledged that they’d look into the matter and release another statement later.
The next thing that crossed my mind involved Stephen Ross. If Flores’ allegations have merit, Ross should be forced to sell to the Dolphins immediately. Offering to pay a coach any sum of money to throw games compromises the integrity of the NFL. It also makes me wonder how many other coaches have committed such an act. Heck, former NFL coach Hue Jackson, who’s Black, I might add, stated the Cleveland Browns paid him to do the same after Flores’ suit surfaced.
My last and final thought on this matter involved the Rooney Rule. It’s a complete joke. Whether anyone reading wants to say it’s related to this suit or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s the thought I had after learning about Brian Flores’ suit. It’s bad enough the NFL has to force its owners to interview a minority candidate for a head coach vacancy. In Flores’ case when interviewing with the Giants, he was a token interview based on Belichick’s text. The Giants already had their man in Brian Daboll.
As for Flores, he was their “checkmark” to follow the Rooney Rule.
I equate this joke of a rule to the Black person in a scary movie. Unless you’re living under a rock, a running joke in life is that in scary movies, the Black man usually dies first or very early.
This is what the Rooney Rule does with Black head coach candidates, for the most part. Get them in the interview either first or very early, check the box, and then get them out of the way so they can continue their interviewing process. Or the flipside is that if hired, their margin of error is very small. If they are fired, it’s rare they get a second shot. Only six Black head coaches in the league’s history have been hired in the role by more than one team.
Brian Flores and his lawsuit against the NFL isn’t going away anytime soon. My hope is that if the details are confirmed to be true, it will be a watershed moment for this league and it’s decades of BS with minority hiring practices.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.