To kick off Black History Month, Brian Flores has sued the NFL, alleging racially discriminatory treatment in the hiring process for Black coaches. As quick background, Flores spent the past few seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and recently completed the first back-to-back winning seasons for the franchise in nearly two decades. As reward for those efforts, he was fired.
He was recently set to interview for the vacant coaching position for the New York Giants, when accidental text messages from his mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, caused him to realize that the Giants had already decided upon a different (white) candidate. The Giants were only “interviewing” him (really, simply making him go through a sham interview for a job he knew he would not get) in order to give the appearance of being compliant with the league’s “Rooney rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidates for head coaching positions. Flores’s lawsuit makes the case that this is not the first time that this has happened to him.
As a fan of football, it remains remarkable to me just how bad the league is about this type of thing. When it comes to issues of equity and justice in a league whose product is largely reliant upon Black players, the league continues to be absolutely miserable. I woke up this morning excited by the news that Mickey Guyton would sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, and that Mary Mary and Yola would sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” And then seven hours later comes the reminder that that sort of thing–entirely flash, no real substance–is all the league has to offer on issues that are deeply meaningful to much of its fan base and a majority of its talent workforce. It’s maddening.
The lawsuit may be found here. It’s a good and damning read.