Brian Flores will use NFL’s past words, practices against it

Miami Dolphins v Tennessee Titans
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When proving cases alleging racial discrimination, the specific treatment directly endured by the plaintiff goes a long way toward proving the case. However, other evidence becomes relevant.

General comments made by key figures can be cited as evidence of bias. Also, past hiring practices without the league could show that something was, and still is, amiss.

The civil lawsuit filed by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores includes this damning quote at paragraph 7 from Troy Vincent, the NFL’s longtime executive V.P. of football operations: “There is a double standard, and we’ve seen that . . . And you talk about the appetite for what’s acceptable. Let’s just go back to . . . Coach [Tony] Dungy was let go in Tampa Bay after a winning season. . . Coach [Steve] Wilks, just a few years prior, was let go after one year . . . Coach [Jim] Caldwell was fired after a winning season in Detroit . . . It is part of the larger challenges that we have. But when you just look over time, it’s over-indexing for men of color. These men have been fired after a winning season. How do you explain that? There is a double standard. I don’t think that that is something that we should shy away from. But that is all part of some of the things that we need to fix in the system. We want to hold everyone to why does one, let’s say, get the benefit of the doubt to be able to build or take bumps and bruises in this process of getting a franchise turned around when others are not afforded that latitude? . . . [W]e’ve seen that in history at the [professional] level.”

Paragraph 8 attributes this quote to NFL senior V.P. and chief diversity & inclusion officer Jonathan Beane: “Any criticism we get for lack of representation at the GM and head coach positions, we deserve. We see that we’re not where we want to be. We have to do much better. We’re focusing on all roles at the league, and all these roles are key roles . . . But certainly at the top of the house, general manager and head coach, that’s the responsibility of the NFL to make sure that we are representing our current fan base and we’re representing those that are in the league today. And if you look at it right now, we’re grossly underrepresented.”

Not quoted in the Flores complaint are comments made by Vincent to Peter King in 2020: “The facts are, we have a broken system . . . Do I take it personal? Yes I do. It’s my responsibility as a professional athlete, as a man of color, as someone who bleeds the National Football League, bleeds football, it’s part of our responsibility to continue what we believe is right for our game. . . . [S]itting in these meetings, listening, hearing people give different excuses, like: ‘This is not the right platform’or ‘Troy, Commissioner, I hear what you’re trying to do — not sure this is the right vehicle but we understand.’ Those are the same words that they told people in my community in the fifties, the forties, about integration of school systems, housing — but not giving us any solutions.”

In other words, Vincent said he was trying to make things better, but that he was basically being ignored.

Here’s what we wrote about Vincent’s candid remarks at the time: “Plenty of businesses learn valuable lessons about proper practices and policies only after experiencing a lawsuit from inception to settlement or verdict. The current challenge for the NFL will be to anticipate what may be coming — especially with Vincent poised to be, consciously or not, the key witness for the plaintiff — and to act before suffering the financial and P.R. fallout of a judge and a jury finding that one or more teams have engaged in illegal discrimination on the basis of race. . . . The longer it takes for a fix to be made, the greater the chance that one or more teams will have to answer for the situation as defendants in a landmark case brought under federal or state civil rights laws.”

That landmark case has landed. Vincent and Beane instantly become key witnesses for the plaintiff.

Then there are the numbers, cold and hard and factual. The number of key openings for the last 50 years. The number of the openings that have gone to Black candidates. The won-loss records of Black coaches who were fired, as opposed to white head coaches.

The message to a jury of average people, if it gets to that point, will be simple. “Folks, if you flip a coin 500 times and it comes up head’s 490 times, there’s something wrong with the coin.”

And it’s ultimately going to cost the NFL many, many more than 500 coins to resolve this one.

73 responses to “Brian Flores will use NFL’s past words, practices against it

  1. Shout out Bill Belichick for getting Flores more money than he would ever make as a coach $$$

  2. While we are drilling down into actual facts, we might consider the number of Black coaches the Giants had on their 2021 staff under current ownership and Joe Judge, versus the number of Black coaches that Brian Flores employed while at Miami.

  3. The biggest problem was that for decades, it was almost all white coaches. You can not make them up out of thin air. Over the past two decades, you are seeing more and more ethnically diverse coaches coming through the pipeline. And fans couldn’t care less what color their coach is as long as they win. I badly wanted Flores to be that guy. I want Grier to be that guy. Grier is meh. Flores had bright spots, but his coaching hires were atrocious and his offenses were among the worst I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen over two decades of post-Marino slop. Fans just want to win.

  4. Good. It’s absolutely absurd that Flores got run out of town for putting together a winning program while guys like Daboll, Judge, Adam Gase, Urban Meyer, etc. get to waltz into head coaching gigs like idiots. The NFL is a paragon of white mediocrity throughout its front offices and coaching staffs and it’s criminal that someone as qualified as Flores can’t get or keep a head coaching gig because of the color of his skin.

  5. “The won-loss records of Black coaches who were fired, as opposed to white head coaches.“


    Whether you’re black or White, you should be judged primarily by your record. That’s what matters at the end of the day.

  6. Dude you couldn’t make the watered down playoffs in 3 years. Also, defying your owners decree to tank so you can get a generational QB is not the path of least resistance. Look in the mirror Brian.

  7. Did Brian Flores have an above .500 record with Miami? Did he take them to the Super Bowl? The playoffs? Nope. He showed promise from year one to year two. He fell flat this season. Losing 7 in a row is more than justifiable for a firing. The team didn’t exceed expectations this year, they fell flat. He had a winning record against NE during his tenure. He also lost to pretty much every other playoff team they faced. Their best win of the year was against the stumbling Ravens but they also countered that with a loss to the Jags. C’mon people. If .500 is what these franchises are looking for then hire the guy. I think most franchises are looking for playoff berths or an explosive offense that puts fans in the stands. Flores fell flat and is throwing a tantrum because he didn’t fall into another HC gig. Now if Tua had shown immense growth and or the team had an identity you could cry foul but Miami looked outmatched in almost every game since he’s been there. Time to move on and that isn’t racism.

  8. What part of the NFL is racist? This makes zero sense. There is equal opprotunity at all levels.

    It is almost as if there is a systemic motion to make racial divide more prevelant than 10, 20, 30 years ago.

  9. Looks like now this has put increased pressure on the Jags, Texans, Saints and Dolphins to hire a ‘minority’ and IF that ‘minority’ fails at their job, public opinion and especially those with ‘old world views’ will strengthen their beliefs and set back the cause for years…
    The ‘minorities’ hired need to be quality, earned it and not just because of their skin or that will just continue the cycle!

  10. Mike,
    I’ve read PFT several times a day for years! When I saw this story break earlier today, I had the expectation of some great writing coming from you. I appreciate your insights, intelligence, and honesty. Keep up the good work!

  11. Im not sure how anyone is going to be able to tell an owner they can only hire a black coach. As for the Dolphins, I dont think they are racist at all. They hired a black coach and GM. However, Boss Ross will be in hot water if its proven that he tried to intentionally tank. However wrong that is, its still not racist.

  12. Whether any of his allegations are true or not, he has cut his own throat being employed by any NFL team again. Should have thought this thru.

  13. Belichick’s text messages to Brian Daboll, inadvertently sent to Brian Flores, congratulating him on getting the job days before his interview for the job are pretty damning.

  14. And here I was thinking that for two weeks, Florio would not have anything critically substantive to write about, since the legal side of the NFL was quiet. Hah! Now it looks like he will be sleepless for a good while, doing what he does best.

    P.S. Marty Schottenheimer was fired from the Chargers after going 47–33 (.588) in the regular season and 12-4 and 14-2 his last two years, both years making the playoffs after many years of cellar-dwelling.

  15. If we Insist on going down this path where half the coaches are black or a minority ,and the other half are white THEN only half the players can be black or a minority and the other half white. It’s ridiculous right? Because YOU want The most talented people playing and coaching the game. That’s why there are interviews and summer camps and cutdowns.

  16. Baseball fans know who Angel Hernandez is. He sued MLB for racial discrimination after being rejected for promotions and World Series games. It took nearly four years for a judge to dismiss the case.

  17. Flores is going scorched earth. He is getting some terrible advice from those surrounding him. He’s also setting a very poor example, which will likely have unintended consequences for him and for others he should have been blazing trails for.

  18. Billionaire owners are free to hire and fire who they want. That is what they earned becoming owners. Not saying you have to like it or agree with it. It is just the facts. Miami fired you because you failed to build a coaching staff to develop all those high draft picks. Coaches won’t work for you and that has been well documented. Sorry Flores your story doesn’t stick with many.

  19. Sad day for all. Flores seems to have made the decision he’ll never get another NFL job. Seriously who would hire him now? It would seem too now if he were hired, how difficult would it be to fire him. Flores may have dug too big a hole .

  20. I hope Flores has hard evidence of this behavior. Texts or emails, eyewitness accounts of when the Bronco interview started and the yacht meeting would be telling and enough to convince a jury

  21. I support Flores. Good luck to him. He’ll never be hired, but he has put integrity above all else.
    And hope he gets a payout.

  22. Whether you agree with the substance of the allegations or not, it takes guts to file a lawsuit against NFL owners knowing that they’ll never hire you as a coach again as a consequence.

  23. Beautiful analysis, as always. THANK YOU. This system is steeped in unconscious bias on the part of power-holders and it HAS to change. Power-holders who benefit from the system have no incentive to change it until someone like Flores comes along. I hope he wins.

  24. Ross, Snyder and the Johnson’s shoukd all be forced to sell their teams. Just terrible owners.

  25. He is a fool and has no legal case; but, his claim of being paid extra to lose will hurt Ross and he may have admitted to income tax fraud

  26. The NFL thought they could pretend to care by throwing half the country under the bus. Now its their turn and nobody will support them. Its time these hypocrites paid a price and I hope this lawsuit is what makes that happen. Go get em coach!

  27. This is the best PFT article I’ve read since the CTE lawsuits. Well done.

    If people, in this case Black people, aren’t given the chances– how can they ever be expected to succeed.

    And there’s 100 year history of pro football where most was spent specifically keeping Black people out of positions of power. There is a debt here.

  28. It just depends how one spins these things. Marty. Schottenheimer was fired after leading the Chargers to a 14-2 record. Jimmy Johnson was let go after two consecutive Super Bowl wins. The Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl immediately after replacing Tony Dungy who was successful but had years of almost but not quite with them. It will come down to whose lawyers are the better story tellers.

  29. this guy rcvd some terrible advice. He has a stable of ex coaches from his staff – who will gladly hang this guy out to dry. He’s struggled being a leader, he’s lucky he had a chance.

    instead of getting help to learn how to be a better communicator and a leader, he decides to burn down the house.

    it’s over

  30. It’s no secret that teams bring in a minority candidate just to satisfy the Rooney Rule. If the NFL really wants to make things fair then teams should submit their top two candidates to the league and a coin flip will decide who gets the job.

  31. It smells like Flores realized he was set up to be a bridge coach, and that’s what set this off. That’s what Ross’ 100 K per loss was really about, an acknowledgment that Flores was likely to get thrown under the bus for what he was being asked to do. Texans clearly in the market for a bridge coach, they look to Culley. I’m not the biggest Flores fan but he may have the goods on some people here.

  32. I hope the NFL hammers the Giants. Mara stole all that cap space from Washington years ago and we still haven’t forgotten. Even though we have a crappy name now, we won’t forget!

  33. Yeesh. I love Flores. Glad he’s standing up for what he believes in but I was really looking forward to seeing who he coached next. He torched any and all NFL opportunities whether anyone admits it or not. BF is such a legit talent… best of luck dude

  34. As with any lawsuit against the NFL, the deposition process is going to be scary and potentially embarrassing for the league. But on the merits, would this lawsuit have any chance? Assuming it is not certified as a class action, Brian Flores has to prove discrimination against him personally. I’d think his case is very weak. The Dolphins very likely have justifiable reasons for letting him go. If he really did stop talking to his staff, that will easily be used against him as justification for firing him.

    The mountain to climb to get this certified as class action is very high. Who is in the class? Every black man who wants to coach in the NFL, every black man they ever held an assistant coach in the NFL, every black man that got fired as a head coach in the NFL?

  35. Joe Robbie, Don Shula, AFC East dominance…… Ah, the good old days.

    Wishing Ross would sell the team.

  36. Here’s the issue no one looks at: you got 31 teams. Its not college where you have more teams than can be counted. 31. Second, there are some great black college coaches who do not want to coach in the NFL, and they were asked to interview and didnt want too. They like the college level and thats a big factor they arent talking about.
    So is the NFL supposed to bread and create black coaches?
    Third there have been black HC who had some success, some failure but they either work as assistant coaches or head coaches. There are also white HC that are now assistants so where is the racism. Are we saying you cant fire a black coach?

  37. He’s had multiple interviews this week. How could it just be him being mad at those teams? Projecting, are we?

  38. Seems they could have a tough time getting this certified. Each hypothetical plaintiffs complaint must be similar enough factually to justify a class action and I’m not sure a suit like this (where fact pattern is complex) can cross that threshold. Admittedly I haven’t read the entire complaint.

    It’s very impressive from a PR stunt in creating pressure (mainly because the public reaction to hearing “class action” assumes guilt on the part of the respondent) but getting certified is a whole different beast, from my experience.

    Will be interesting to see how it plays out. Can’t help but think that if the NFL hadn’t married itself to the FPA and played lip service with the “Rooney Rule” which isn’t actually a rule, that they might not have created this muddled standard by which teams are expected to act one way, by the public, but not actually required to follow by the NFL.

  39. Pulling for the change that Brian Flores gave his career up for. Sincerely, a white football fan who agrees there is a problem.

  40. Adam Gase was head coach before Flores and finished 23-25 in 3 years and was fired. Before Gase, Joe Philbin was 23-25 after 3 seasons and given a 4th season only to be fired after 4 games (going 1-3). Flores finished 24-25 in 3 years and met the same fate as the previous two coaches. Sounds like Flores was treated equitably. Flores didn’t get it done. And now he’s suing. Give me a break.

  41. The simple fact the NFL implements and implemented a compensatory reward system on this issue will contain enough discoverable testimony for this suit to be successful, either in court, or as a settlement. Flores is in the drivers seat

  42. His actions show why he was fired and why he hasn’t been hired yet or now ever will be. A quick willingness to frivolously sue your employer makes u pretty much impossible to hire.

  43. The NFL cannot defend the fact that the TEXANS will interview a white, retired QB, with no head coaching experience, to be their head coach. Houston, we have a problem.

  44. “Well Mr. Owner, I know you believe this guy is going to be the best candidate, but you have to hire the other guy because of the color of his skin” isn’t a good answer either. For the guy not getting hired, AND for the guy who believes he’s getting hired because of his racial background, not his abilities.

    I don’t have the answer, but this is a mess. It’s hard to believe that an NFL owner is hiring a coach based on anything other than ability, or excluding candidates based on race, in 2022. But the Rooney Rule caused this by making a sham of the process. Faux interviews for compliance and politics truly are a problem and Mr. Flores is trying to do something about it, I can’t wait to see what happens here.

  45. Brian,
    The NFL is and always will be a microcosm of this place.
    I applaud the effort and the tens of thousands of efforts that proceeded yours.
    Achievements must be substantial and sometimes doubled before you can expect to be liberated from excuses, deflection and platitudes.

    So dig in. Its a long and difficult road.

  46. I do believe NFL owners will hire not-the-best coaches because teams like the Jets, Lions, other-crappy-teams have proven they will make money hand-over-fist even if they suck. For teams like this winning isn’t everything when you still make hundreds of millions every year for not even trying.

  47. Rooney Rule or no Rooney Rule the fact that there is one Black HC in the NFL is a joke.

    Jim Caldwell never should have even lost his job.

    I know he had some health issues, but he is ready to go again and the fact that he doesn’t have a job is puzzling.

    He was the HC in Detroit for Four Years, and they had three winning seasons. IIRD his worst season there, they were 7-9.

    The Black Coaches that are upset about this have every right to be.

    I actually really wanted Flores to be the HC of my team who went with someone else.

    That man was exactly what was needed in the building.

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