The smoking text came, from all people, Bill Belichick.
A text message from the 6-time Super Bowl champion head coach is the basis for Brian Flores's lawsuit against the NFL and the New York Giants, alleging racism in the league's hiring practices for positions of power.
On Jan. 24, Belichick texted Flores congratulating him on getting the New York Giants job -- a job for which he had not yet interviewed.
In that text, Flores and his attorneys believe they have encapsulated the NFL's entire good-old-boys club. The Giants had already decided to hire Brian Daboll (0-0 as an NFL head coach) over Brian Flores (24-25). That decision was communicated within the league, only Belichick got his Brians mixed up.
The Giants have since responded, calling Daboll the most qualified candidate.
“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the statement 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.”
Still, Flores is suing. The entire lawsuit is posted publicly.
Flores was the first Dolphins head coach to lead the club to back-to-back winning seasons in more than a decade, labeling him difficult to work with. Flores said he got that label because he refused owner Stephen Ross's directive to tank the 2019 season, and then refused to break NFL tampering rules.
Flores is now putting the proverbial system on trial, laying out in chapter and verse how Black candidates get head coaching, coordinator and GM opportunities far less frequently than white candidates, are held to a higher standard than white candidates, and are given fewer second chances than their white counterparts.
Twenty years after the Rooney Rule was implemented, the NFL has one Black head coach -- fewer than when the rule was adopted. The NFL employs four Black offensive coordinators, 11 Black defensive coordinators, three Black quarterbacks coaches, six Black general managers, and does not -- and has never had -- a Black majority owner, despite a player population that is roughly 70 percent Black.
The suit cites examples of Steve Wilks (fired after one season), Jim Caldwell (fired by the Lions despite owning the highest winning percentage in the team's modern history), Teryl Austin (0-for-10 on head coaching interviews), and Eric Bieniemy (no head coaching offers despite a Super Bowl). At present, the Houston Texans are considering hiring Josh McCown, with no head coaching experience, to replace David Culley, fired after one season despite 41 years of experience.
“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 my 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.”
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Update: The Dolphins and the NFL office have released responses to the suit.
And...."Flores and his team" have responded: