Brian Flores has been fired. And now, the question that remains, will he ever be able to coach the sport of football again?
Flores is a dedicated man of the National Football League, as he spent 20 years bouncing around various assistant/coordinator positions, training under the likes of legendary coach Bill Bellichik, before finally landing his head coaching job for the Miami Dolphins. Flores ends his tenure in Miami with an overall record of 24-25, however, he was able to lead the Dolphins to their first two consecutive winning seasons in years. He was able to do all of this while rotating through injured quarterbacks, partly thanks to his revitalized defense. Flores was certainly a fundamental part of the Miami Dolphins rebuild, which is why his firing came as a shock to so many people. But, if you ask Flores, it is simply a result of the systemic racism that plagues the NFL.
Flores alleges that his relationship with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier went downhill shortly after he was hired in 2019. He claims that Ross offered him $100,000 for every Dolphins loss in an attempt to maximize their draft returns. And, as Flores and the Dolphins began to win games later in the season, Flores noted that the management of the team was mad that their draft position was being compromised. Additionally, after refusing to meet with a prominent quarterback recruit at the end of the 2019 season, Flores alleges that he was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with. All that for abiding by the NFL’s tampering rules.
Despite another successful 2021-2022 season, Flores was fired in January and immediately began the search for another job. Flores showed interest in the Giants, the Dolphins, the Broncos, the Saints, and the Texans. After quickly realizing that the Dolphins were no longer the organization for him, he had his sights set on the Giant’s job. Unfortunately for Flores, Bill Bellichik accidentally leaked that the job was going to Brian Daboll days before the Flores interview. Furthermore, Flores alleges that the Broncos general manager John Elway, among others, arrived at his interview late and hungover. This made Flores draw one conclusion, that the Giants and Broncos were only interviewing him to stay in compliance with the Rooney Rule.
The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for their open positions. This rule, which has been amended in recent years, now says teams must hold an in-person interview with at least one external minority candidate for any general manager or head coach opening. While the NFL is attempting to minimize racism within the league, Flores and the rest of the minority coaches know that this rule is not enough. Thus, after being turned down for every coaching job regardless of his impressive winning seasons, Brian Flores’ lawsuit was born.
At the end of the day, Flores cares more about inciting positive change within the NFL than an opportunity to coach again. He understands what he is risking, but more importantly, recognizes that it is his responsibility to stand up to these injustices and make the league a better place for black coaches and staff.
“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 a statement put out by his law firm, the Wigdor firm. “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.”
To no surprise, each NFL team that Flores called out quickly and vehemently denied his allegations. They all made statements regarding their pride in the organization, the fairness of the hiring process that they all stand by, and their search for inclusion and diversity. According to all of these teams, Flores was simply just not the most qualified candidate. However, Flores knows that this wasn’t the case and believes that it is his responsibility to shine a light on and expose the long list of racial injustices that take place within the NFL.
Flores has forced the nation’s attention to a handful of key points. He would ultimately like to see Commissioner Roger Goodell and other high-level NFL executives address all of his concerns including the increased influence of black individuals in hiring, increase “the objectivity” of hiring/terminating GMs, head coaches, and coordinators, increase the number of Black coordinators, incentivize hiring/retention of Black GMs, head coaches and coordinators and transparency of pay for GMs, head coaches, and coordinators. Rather than addressing these concerns, the NFL claims that these allegations lack merit and that no action will be taken, demonstrative of Flores’s very own point of systematized racism.
The NFL has endured countless incidents regarding race, from Kaepernick’s kneeling to black athletes getting underpaid. While the league has put “End Racism” on every helmet, little action is taking place. And to Flores, the dynamic between the ownership of the NFL and the average employee is reminiscent of American history and the days of plantation owners.
“The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line,” Flores said.
While the NFL denies all of these allegations, the people and the fans know that Flores’ words ring true. The league needs to listen to these valid concerns and take action. And, with Brian Flores already being out of a job, he is determined to do whatever it takes to get the African-American men and women that run the NFL the opportunity, appreciation, and respect that they deserve.