Why did NFL immediately claim the Brian Flores lawsuit is “without merit”?

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In the hours after the filing of the Brian Flores lawsuit, the NFL issued its first word on the situation. Instead of declining comment, as the league did when it was sued last week over the relocation of the Chargers from San Diego, the league commented.

The comment ended with this assertion: ​”We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”

As Peter King noted on Twitter and as we discussed on Wednesday’s PFT Live, how can the league say that the claims are “without merit” on the same day they were made? Surely, it doesn’t know that already.

The statement was intended to send a message. The message is simple: “We will fight you over this.” This means that the league won’t, for example, perform an objective investigation or otherwise attempt to determine whether the claims have merit. It won’t try to see the situation from Flores’s perspective. It will deny, disclaim, and discredit. And it will attack, attack, and attack some more.

But what does the NFL gain from sending that message publicly? Why even add the premature editorial comment that the unexplored lawsuit is “without merit”?

For the rest of us, it’s useful to know which way the hot air is blowing. We now know that the NFL will, as it often does, reach a conclusion (i.e., “no one did anything wrong”) and work backward to prove it.

The better approach would have been to say something like this: “We take these matters seriously. We will investigate the claims fairly and thoroughly, and we will take any appropriate action.”

The fact that the NFL didn’t say this means, quite simply, that it won’t be acting that way, at all.

77 responses to “Why did NFL immediately claim the Brian Flores lawsuit is “without merit”?

  1. PFT might have to add execs and owners to the “Days without an arrest” tracker…

  2. Because maybe it is without merit. For crying out loud, the guy was head coach for 2 years plus a coordinator. Did they just become racist because he was fired?

  3. The billionaires club didn’t get there by being passive. They are ruthless. I see congress and potentially the FBI getting involved in this case.

  4. Trying to create something here that is without substance.

    If the NFL says “ok maybe we are throwing games” you may as well kiss goodbye to the league.

    Of course they would come out and say it is ‘without merit’.

  5. Perhaps if Flores had gone to the NFL with his complaints rather than suing them, that would have been their response. When you get sued, defendants don’t typically investigate in a way that will help the plaintiff.

  6. Cause it IS a meritless claim. Guess what? I’d say 75% of the time, they already have their #1 target in mind BEFORE they even do one interview. It’s completely fine if that #1 target is black, but God forbid he’s white.

    This constant narrative of racism being used as the end all be all excuse for literally everything in America is so exhaustively tiring.

  7. What are they supposed to say???? “Yes, we are aware there is rampant corruption, racism, unfair hiring practices, and match fixing in our league. We are aware of at least 4 franchises participating in this unethical and possible illegal behavior, and have done nothing about it except sweep it under the rug.” ?????

  8. Because Goodell always starts with his desires outcome and launches an “investigation” to create a narrative supporting that outcome

  9. It is concerning that black coaches are getting shunned for opportunities, and when they get them, are paid to lose. Being set up to fail.

  10. Boomer Esiason just (likely inadvertently) corroborated the claim that the Giants had already offered the gig to Daboll days before interviewing Flores. So… Bill, Boomer, and who else knew?

  11. As mentioned sometime last year in a post, I honestly believe Mark Cuban’s prediction of the NFL imploding is becoming an unfortunate reality. This has gone past insane.

  12. They used the term “without merit” because two or three owners and the Commissioner are at risk. If they said they would be investigating a number of prominent league people would be at risk and most likely would have to recuse themselves.

  13. Roger thought an immediate complete denial would keep it all under wraps during Super Bowl week. Instead, it will be the main topic of discussion at Super Bowl parties around the world.

    Goodell is putting out fire — with gasoline.

  14. Perhaps the NFL can bring Robert Mueller and Ted Wells together to investigate and provide reports. Sigh….

  15. The league’s statement before investigating any of claims is definitely a legal tactic. It puts other Black coaches on notice and keeps them from joining Flores. Regardless of your claims or their validity, the League will fight you and it will likely cost you your career.

  16. It’s Kaepernick all over again collusion. When was the last time the Giants had an African American head coach? When was the last time the Giants had an African American QB not named Gino Smith? Mara’s own comments on Kaepernick made this a thing.

  17. Spot on Mike. The league office has one overriding concern = protect the owners while making money for the owners and themselves. Will there be a reckoning one day?

  18. You don’t think the NFL league office wasn’t tipped days in advance that this lawsuit was coming do you?

  19. Thick as thieves. NFL is paid at the behest of 32 Billions to protect them at all costs.

  20. The better approach would have been to say something like this: “We take these matters seriously. We will investigate the claims fairly and thoroughly, and we will take any appropriate action.”

    The far better response would have been the corporate-standard “We do not comment on pending litigation.”

  21. The NFL works FOR the owners. They will always protect them, evenw hen they do terrible things.

  22. Its possible they simply mean the allegations against the league are without merit.

    If they do an investigation and punish the Giants and Dolphins. They can then say the league is doing its best and they just wish Flores had informed them sooner.

  23. It is not really the NFL’s job to investigate fairly and thoroughly. They are totally within their rights to spin everything as favorably as they can for themselves. Every major business does the same, why would you expect anything different from this business?

  24. Hmmmm….why ever would a monopolistic sports league so deeply intertwined with gambling conglomerates immediately dismiss game fixing charges without any introspection, two weeks before the biggest gambling event in the world?

  25. On a side note, all of this blowing up the day WFT debuted their new name and merch is kinda like the bride getting upstaged on her wedding day.

  26. Tired of all the crusty old white guy owners. 70% of the league is black. There should be more representation at the coach and GM level.

  27. The tanking issues are huge, if true. Just wait for the lawsuits against Miami and Cleveland from season ticket holders, sponsors, broadcasters, vendors, Sunday ticket buyers etc. All were duped that both teams wanted to win.

  28. The suit is way overdue; the sham interviews are well known. The NFL office has been run by lawyers for years and any statements they make are run threw the legal teams before issued. they knew exactly what they were saying.

  29. They claimed “without merit” because the NFL’s fallback position is one developed by Shaggy.. “It Wasn’t Me.”

  30. Isn’t it pretty much standard practice to state that your opponent’s legal claims are without merit? One thing I wonder is how can a coach tank a game? He’s not on the field of play. Sure he can make a stupid challenge call a dumb play or use an idiotic timeout but above that what else can he do? If I am a player who has a contract that pays me extra if I run, pass, catch or tackle at a certain level am I going to listen to the coach tell me to be sure I drop that interception or fumble on the goal line so HE can get a bonus?

  31. Serious allegations like these need to be backed up with serious evidence. Is there any evidence? In this day and age of social media a lot of people will immediately come to a conclusion, and most have already reading from the comments, whether any evidence is presented or not.

  32. The NFL is the only predominantly black sport that has an equity problem in the coaching ranks. Its well past time to fix it.

  33. myvietnamwasfightingtheclap says: “Boomer Esiason just (likely inadvertently) corroborated the claim that the Giants had already offered the gig to Daboll days before interviewing Flores. So… Bill, Boomer, and who else knew?”

    One, until a coach ACCEPTS AND SIGNS, it’s not a done deal. He might have another offer and playing both teams and the Giants need a backup plan.

    Two, Giants already interviewed Leslie Frazier (Jan 22) right after Daboll. They covered the Rooney Rule and didn’t need Flores. Which means they actually were interested with Flores as HC if Daboll signed somewhere else.

  34. I think I’d want the NFL to look into Flores stating Ross offered him $100K per loss. That’s a “score fixing” crime.
    And it has to be looked at very very closely with sports betting gaining steam nationwide.

  35. What everyone is failing to even understand is that the owners of each franchise will stand together on this and no matter what they will prevail. There are around 600 billionaires in the USA. This is an elite group that cannot be beaten. All the stories and articles and congress sessions in the world will still not mean squat. Flores took on a giant and will lose badly. I mean really badly. He got poor advice from his attorney. One huge issue is he remained committed and employed by the very same person he is trying to sue for 2 and a half seasons AFTER the alleged tanking remark. If you had so much integrity that wouldn’t of been the case. The owner employs a black GM and hired you as an inexperienced black head coach so that racist card will also not hold any water. It may sound big and bad in the press right now but this is the big boy league you picked a fight with. They will not lose, you will Flores. Kaboom to your coaching career. Another crusader employed by Nike on the way.

  36. The bottom line is that these games are all fake. Everyone has complex scripts that they have to follow, even Kaepernick. Players and coaches don’t care because they get paid millions to either win, lose or cause controversy. It’s no different from the WWE.

  37. For all those commenting that the case is without merit, how many have actually read the complaint? Not many, I’m going to guess, judging by how many seem to think this case is just about Flores getting fired or not getting hired by the Giants.

  38. “The billionaires club didn’t get there by being passive. They are ruthless. I see congress and potentially the FBI getting involved in this case.”

    Congress is the billionaires club . If they get involved it wont be because they are trying to do what’s right . If they get involved its to further their political ambitions

  39. Florio is a lawyer. He knows why they said it is without merit. Had Flores gone public, but not sued, then the league would do the ‘we will investigate these allegations’ route. But because they are being sued the response is to deny. To do otherwise hurts your case. Florio knows this.

  40. You answered your own question. The firm repping Flores is notorious for fighting their battles in public to increase negative PR exposure for adversaries, leading to an early and unfavorable settlement. NFL’s statement is telling them that’s not going to work, this is going to be a long battle. It’s all posturing at this stage, but it’s actually the correct move by the NFL in terms of lawsuit strategy.

  41. What league exec gets to drop the “Look at Tomlin. He never had a losing season so nobody ever offered black coaches $ to lose.” Also known as the I have a black friend defense.

  42. If there is the slightest amount of truth to the accusation, Vegas will have a meltdown. It would be better to investigate than have a kneejerk response.

  43. Funny how the NFL is bound by the Rooney Rule for selection of coaches
    And GMs,but when it comes to more important positions such as the SUPREME COURT..well that all goes out the window.

  44. For those saying it’s without merit… I suggest you check out Troy Vincent’s comments from several years ago. There’s actually a fair amount of merit to his claims

  45. The claims are without merit because they didn’t allege any facts that support a discrimination claim under the statutes noted.

  46. This will be settled before it even get to court. Neither side can afford a court battle.

  47. Obviously a planned event. Daboll got hired on Thursday. Flores had his lawsuit ready in two business days.

  48. Congress should order the NFL offices, the owners and all
    relevant employees to keep their emails and phones intact
    for a fair and thorough investigation.
    Anyone destroying evidence should face severe repercussions.

    The NFL brought this onto itself – it’s time to pay the Piper.

  49. Maybe they’re just trying to be successful in defending themselves against the lawsuit. Doesn’t take a law degree to figure that one out

  50. Nobody should be shocked by the NFL’s reaction. How long did it take them to acknowledge repeated blows to the head might actually cause significant brain damage?

  51. I wonder what we are going to learn during discovery?

    Ask Jon Gruden why it potentially matters.

  52. The Giants hired Daboll because they wanted an offensive coach who could fix Daniel Jones. They didn’t break any state/federal hiring laws – they broke the NFL’s Rooney Rule which means they should be punished by the NFL, not the courts.

  53. Wondering how the NFL having a definitive “quick response” is any different from the talking heads at ESPN, the NFL Network, and others quickly responding with a lockstep proclamation that the claim is with full merit?

  54. Is it not possible that the NFL had a copy of the lawsuit before it was issued publicly? That seems more likely and thus responding so quickly with the without merit position is normal / understandable.

  55. Because their lawyers told them to say that. Thats exactly why. Its all about lawyers from here on out.

  56. Daboll got hired as Giants HC instead of Flores simply because Daboll and Giants new GM Joe Schoen both were previously with the Bills and therefore the hiring of Daboll instead of Flores makes perfect sense. The hiring has absolutely nothing to do with skin color

  57. Why did they say its without merit? Because they have a smart legal team that is advising them anything and everything they say will he used as evidence so for the NFL to even appear to believe the claims would almost give more credence to what Flores says.

  58. The NFL said his claim had no merit to CYA. However Flores has a valid claim and history tell us this is…FACT.

  59. They said the same thing about Gruden – apparently this is their first move in all lawsuits

  60. Why are you mad at the NFL that there aren’t any minority owners. Be mad at the billionaires of whatever minority race that isn’t bidding on a NFL team. Can’t have a minority owner if the minority isn’t bidding. Do you expect the current owner to drop the value of their teams to bring in more people? The Broncox are up for sale. Tell Jay-Z or Robert F. Smith to bid. If no minority owners are bidding then whose fault is that

  61. WildGarlic says:
    February 2, 2022 at 1:38 pm
    This will be settled before it even get to court. Neither side can afford a court battle.

    Flores cannot match the NFL legal warchest, but the NFL fears discovery more than anything here so for them its not just about winning the case, they need to not even let it get to that early phase.

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