In February, it was reported that former Dolphins coach Brian Flores would join the Texans to his landmark lawsuit against the NFL, based on the argument that the Texans didn’t hire Flores as the successor to David Culley because of the lawsuit. Today, Flores officially made that move.
Flores alleges at paragraph 17 of the amended complaint, “[T]he Texans retaliated against Mr. Flores by removing him for consideration for its Head Coach vacancy due to his decision to file this action and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.”
The amended complaint also lays out the unusual facts that resulted in the hiring of Lovie Smith. At paragraph 211, Flores points out that it was widely reported that Flores, Jonathan Gannon, and Josh McCown had become the three finalists for the job. Then, Gannon was removed from consideration, narrowing the choices to Flores and McCown.
“[T]he Texans were rightfully concerned that if it hired Mr. McCown over Mr. Flores, it would bolster Mr. Flores’ allegations of systemic discrimination against Black candidates, particularly given that the team had just fired Black Head Coach David Culley after only one season,” the amended complaint alleges at paragraph 214.
At the same time, Smith publicly emerged for the first time as a candidate. Flores alleges that the Texans ultimately hired Smith and not Flores in retaliation for Flores filing his lawsuit. Flores suggests that the Texans potentially didn’t act alone.
From paragraph 218 of the amended complaint: “[E]ither the Texans made this retaliatory decision on its own or the NFL — through the Commissioner’s office and/or other member teams and/or surrogates from the NFL or its member teams — pressured the Texans not to hire Mr. Flores to be its Head Coach after he filed this lawsuit, or some combination thereof.”
The discovery process will go a long way toward proving this claim, or not. Apart from the grilling of key witnesses, Flores will try to find emails, text messages, or other documents generated by the Texans’ coaching search. When did Smith emerge as a candidate? How did he emerge? What, if anything, was said about the Flores lawsuit? What communications, if any, happened with the NFL or other teams about the lawsuit?
Although the NFL probably will try to move this claim to arbitration because it always tries to move claims like this to arbitration, Flores never worked for the Texans. He had no contract with the Texans. The league and the Texans would need some other path to invoke arbitration, like it’s doing in the Jon Gruden case.
Regardless, the Texans have now officially been added to the case, along with the Dolphins, Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, and Titans. And the Texans eventually will have to explain why and how Smith emerged as a candidate so late in the search, and whether (as many suspect) McCown would have gotten the job, but for the Flores lawsuit.