NEW-YORK-Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three teams on Tuesday over alleged racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers, saying the league remains “rife with racism” even as it publicly condemns it.
Miami fired Flores, 40, last month after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight winning season, but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, said the hypocrisy was on display with the chilly treatment Flores received from the Dolphins, after he refused to accept a $100,000-a-game offer from the club his first season to “tank” so it could secure the top draft pick.
The lawsuit sought class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unidentified individuals.
In a statement released by the lawyers representing him, Flores said: “In making the decision to file the class action complaint, 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,” he said.
In a statement, the NFL said it will defend “against these claims, which are without merit.”
It added: “The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations. Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time.”
The lawsuit alleges that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers.
According to the lawsuit, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told Flores he would pay him $100,000 for every loss during the coach’s first season because he wanted the club to “tank” so it could get the draft’s top pick.
The lawsuit alleged that Ross then pressured Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of the league’s tampering rules. When Flores refused, he was cast as the “angry Black man” who is difficult to work with and was derided until he was fired, the suit said.
The Dolphins issued a statement, saying: “We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”