Former Miami Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores, is suing the NFL along with three of its teams –the Dolphins, the Broncos, and the Giants– alleging systematic racism and discrimination. In an interview for the Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR, Flores also mentioned instances of attempted bribery, which tarnishes the competitive integrity of the entire league. The Miami Dolphins hired Flores as their Head Coach on February 4th, 2019. After 3 seasons with the team and two consecutive winning seasons in 2020 and 2021, he was fired on January 10th, 2022, with a 24-25 overall record with the Dolphins. The move seemed unprecedented given the club’s recent, though limited, success.
Brian Flores was raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NYC. He grew up with four brothers, the sons of Honduran immigrant parents. In college, Flores played at Boston College as a linebacker but suffered an injury preventing him from playing in the NFL. With a passion for football but the inability to play, Flores pursued a career in coaching instead. Before joining the Dolphins, he was an assistant with the New England Patriots, having begun his coaching career at the age of 23. He ended his tenure with the Patriots as the defensive play-caller for future Hall-of-Famer Bill Belichick, which gave him the accolades to rise to the position of Head Coach for the Dolphins in 2019. It was a promising start to a position he lost suddenly. After he was fired from the Dolphins in 2022, he filed a class-action lawsuit to bring attention to the racial inequities in the league.
In his lawsuit, he claims that text messages sent to him from Bill Belichick revealed that Brian Daboll had already secured the New York Giants’ head-coaching job three days before Brian Flores even interviewed for that position. He alleges that the congratulatory text messages from Bill Belichick were meant for Brian Daboll, not Brian Flores and that his interview with the Giants –along with an interview he had in 2019 with the Broncos– was nothing more than a sham. In Flores’ lawsuit he also claims that the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each of the team’s losses in 2019 in hopes to improve the team’s draft position for 2020. He claims that a primary source of his firing was his refusal to tank in 2019. Tanking, or losing on purpose, can be beneficial to a team in securing a high draft pick but usually reflects poorly on the coaching.
Flores’ lawsuit was filed on the first day of Black History Month and claimed that the NFL was rife with racism, particularly when it came to the hiring and retaining of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators, and General Managers. A powerful message, no doubt. In Flores’ Class Action Complaint, he points out that only:
1 of the 32 teams employ a Black head Coach
4 of the 32 teams employ a Black Offensive Coordinator
11 of the 32 teams employ a Black Defensive Coordinators
8 of the 32 teams employ a Black Special Teams Coordinator
3 of the 32 teams employ a Black Quarterback Coach
6 of the 32 teams employ a Black General Manager
Flores then builds off of his claims alleging that “in certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation. 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 says that he understands he “may be risking coaching the game,” but he hopes that “by standing against the systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.” Thankfully for Flores and his coaching career, on February 19, 2022, the Steelers officially announced that they have hired Brian Flores as their senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach. His class-action lawsuit against the NFL is still ongoing.