Former Miami coach Brian Flores is not only suing the NFL but also three teams—Dolphins, Giants and Broncos—as well as unidentified individuals for racist hiring practices.
Among various complaints, the proposed class action states that Flores went through “sham” interviews that were held solely to be in compliance with the Rooney Rule, including a meeting with Denver in 2019. Then-general manager John Elway, president and CEO Joe Ellis and others who were part of the interview process allegedly showed up an hour late, per the copy of the complaint.
“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before. 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. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”
The Rooney Rule as we know it today says NFL teams must interview two minority candidates when looking for a franchise’s next head coach. But when Denver was interviewing, the rule only mandated one minority candidate had to be interviewed. Fangio, Mike Munchak, Chuck Pagano and Zac Taylor were reportedly among those the Broncos spoke with for the job, Flores being the only Black candidate.
“The Rooney Rule is also not working because management is not doing the interviews in good-faith, and it therefore creates a stigma that interviews of Black candidates are only being done to comply with the Rooney Rule rather than in recognition of the talents that the Black candidates possess.”
This was not the only “sham” interview included in the complaint. Flores also claims the Giants had already made the decision to hire Brian Daboll when they were still scheduled to interview Flores last month—which Bill Belichick accidentally revealed to him in a text message, according to the lawsuit.
Flores was fired by the Dolphins in January after posting a 24–25 record over three years with the franchise, narrowly missing the playoffs in his final two seasons. Per the complaint, the basis for his firing of him “was alleged poor collaboration.”
“In reality, the writing had been on the wall since Mr. Flores’ first season as Head Coach of the Dolphins, when he refused his owner’s directive to “tank” for the first pick in the draft,” the complaint read.
The 40-year-old alleged in Tuesday’s lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each loss during the 2019 season.
The Broncos released a statement following the lawsuit going public, saying in full, “The allegations from Brian Flores directed toward the Denver Broncos in today’s court filing are blatantly false. Our interview with Mr. Flores regarding our head coaching position began promptly at the scheduled time of 7:30 am on Jan. 5, 2019, in a Providence, RI, hotel. There were five Broncos executives present for the interview, which lasted approximately three-and-a-half hours—the fully allotted time—and concluded shortly before 11 am
“Pages of detailed notes, analysis and evaluations from our interview demonstrate the depth of our conversation and sincere interest in Mr. Flores as a head coaching candidate. Our process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position.
“The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization—and its employees—from such baseless and disparaging claims.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.