Steve Wilks, Ray Horton join Brian Flores lawsuit, with claims against Cardinals, Titans

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As expected, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores has added two plaintiffs to his landmark lawsuit against the NFL.

Former Cardinals coach Steve Wilks (pictured) and former NFL assistant coach Ray Horton have joined the action, with claims against the NFL generally and allegations against the Cardinals and Titans, respectively.

Wilks alleges that the Cardinals hired him as a “bridge coach” without giving him a meaningful chance to succeed. Wilks points out that he had to operate without a General Manager “during a critical time of the preseason” (Steve Keim had been suspended following a DUI) and Wilks was “stuck with an unready rookie quarterback drafted by [Keim] contrary to Mr. Wilks’ suggestion.” (Wilks says that he wanted to trade up to draft Josh Allen in 2018, not Josh Rosen.)

Wilks also alleges that he was fired after one year, “even though [he was] dealt a difficult hand.” Wilks points out that Keim “had personal responsibility for the team’s performance” and “had engaged in fireable conduct,” but wasn’t terminated. Wilks notes that the Cardinals had to buy out three years of his contract, while Keim had only one year remaining on his deal. The team chose to pay Wilks to not work, and to extend Keim’s contract.

Wilks further alleges that he was replaced by a white coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who “has been given a much longer leash than Mr. Wilks and, to his credit, has succeeded.” Wilks doesn’t point out that the Cardinals have regressed during each of Kingsbury’s three seasons, capped by a 10-2 start in 2021 followed by a dramatic collapse and a one-and-out playoff appearance.

Among his allegations, Wilks contends that Keim was involved in negotiations on a new contract with running back David Johnson, and that “there is evidence of Mr. Keim’s input and participation during his so-called suspension.”

Wilks also alleges that Keim and owner Michael Bidwill were “pissed” that the Cardinals won a late-season game in 2018 against the Packers, given that it may have compromised the team’s ability to secure the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Wilks is currently the defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach of the Panthers.

Horton claims that, in 2016, he received a “sham interview” with the Titans. The team hired Mike Mularkey instead, and he later said during a podcast interview that the Titans told him he would be the coach, “before they went through the Rooney Rule.”

“And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in 2016, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing . . . a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to go that job,” Mularkey said, via the amended complaint. “And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me, that I have a job already. I regret it. . . . and I regretted it since then. I am sorry I did that, but it was not the way to do that. Should have been interviewed like everybody else and got hired ’cause of the interview not early on.”

Horton, who most recently worked for Washington in 2019, is not currently employed by any NFL team.

The league surely will have a response to these allegations. Hopefully, it won’t provide a statement that the claims are “without merit” before later saying things that contradict the knee-jerk effort to disclaim liability.

34 responses to “Steve Wilks, Ray Horton join Brian Flores lawsuit, with claims against Cardinals, Titans

  1. Maybe Ray Rhodes should join the lawsuit. He was fired by the Packers after one 8-8 season.

  2. A whole lot of reaching here. Must be nice to play “what if” after things. “He wanted to trade up for Josh Allen, instead of taking Josh Rosen.” Ah, sure. Most people would now. Wilks was a horrible head coach period. As much as I’m not a Kingsbury fan, he is better. Anyone who watched the Cardinals that one season saw he was in over his head with Wilks.

  3. So, Horton joined this lawsuit because he applied for a job, interview, but didn’t get it? Can’t really make out what he’s trying to say at the end there.

  4. I tried to read the article it just kept saying waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….

    Must be nice to have a contract bought out….yet you sre still complaining?

  5. isnt steve wilks that ugly bald dude from jerry springer? what does he have to do with this?

  6. We didn’t need a lawsuit to know the NFL had this issue. The NFL is on a list of companies around the country with this issue. This is the reason companies use words like DEI(Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) when trying to hire. Good luck NFL.

  7. Yepper, this is going to help make owners want to hire more minorities as their HC.

  8. The Cards have not regressed under Kingsbury as they’ve improved their win total every year he’s been there. Late season slides do not mean they’ve reversed. And Wilks was clearly over his head, the defense was bad under Wilks and he put one of the most historically bad offenses on the field in 2018. All under his watch.

  9. Steve Wilks is a joke. This dude was bad on so many different levels it’s not even funny. This is a guy who despite his defense getting ran through over and over and over again refused to make ANY ADJUSTMENTS!!!! The entire Cardinal fan base wanted him gone half way through the year as it was apparent he was in wayyyyy over his head. For this guy to turn around years later and all of the sudden scream Racism instead of taking ownership of his own failures tells you everything you need to know about Steve Wilks character. Wilks lost the locker room mid way through the year for a reason.

  10. Man this is getting ridiculous. Kingsbury showed immediate impact on AZ something that Wilks didn’t show. Should teams hang on to lame duck coaches because of skin color? Ray Horton seems like one of those lifetime positional coaches and there’s nothing wrong with that. Plenty of white and black coaches spend their careers just being assistants. Not every coach is cut out to lead the whole team. This is just getting ridiculous now.

  11. I mean, the Ray Horton situation is exactly the reason why they shouldn’t have the Rooney Rule in the first place. As for Steve Wilks, I mean, they fired and paid him to leave. Not only that, but the Cardinals actually did get considerably better since his 1 year. Do I think he should have been fired? No, but history since has shown that the Cardinals actually made the right decision regardless how controversial it was.

  12. Sounds to me like these guys are just now finding out how inherently crappy these jobs can be for all but the most successful coaches.

    I mean – not being given the resources or time they think they need, GMs picking different players than the ones they most want, general organizational ineptitude and uncertainty – this is pretty much the job description for any NFL head coach. White coaches are impacted by all of these same things.

    No coach, no matter how qualified, is entitled to a HC job. Far more qualified coaches than Wilks are left out of the hiring cycle each year. What’s left is a lot of subjective interpretation and the ambiguity that is an inherent aspect of having something like the Rooney rule in place.

  13. If actual good black coaches like Flores joined the suit, it would have more merit. Wills was a terrible coach and it didn’t take a football genius to see that. Flores won without an all Pro like Josh Allen. That’s what good coaches do. Any coach could win with the best players. That doesn’t define a good coach, Steve Wilks.

  14. It would be a welcome result of the case if the NFL eliminated using season records as a basis for drafting position.

  15. Nobody’s going to want to touch these guys now. As for proving their allegations, good luck. It makes no sense for Wilks to say he didn’t get a fair shot. That basically amounts to a ridiculous conspiracy theory, that the Cardinals hired Wilks and didn’t want him to succeed. It seems like Wilks is ready to blame everyone else and not accept any personal responsibility for what took place. And let’s face it, there are some pretty incompetent owners around the league who make bad mistakes hiring coaches regardless of race.

  16. These guys are not making it easier for minorities to get a head coaching job, if anything they’re making it harder.

  17. kevpft says:
    April 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Sounds to me like these guys are just now finding out how inherently crappy these jobs can be for all but the most successful coaches.


    Don’t you realize how much these head coaches are being paid for these “crappy” jobs? I don’t know about you, but many people out there would gladly take such crappy jobs in exchange for a lifetime of financial security.

  18. egomaniac247 says:
    April 7, 2022 at 12:59 pm
    These guys are not making it easier for minorities to get a head coaching job, if anything they’re making it harder.


    Lovie Smith disagrees.

  19. You guys may get a kick out of this, since I am not even a football fan. But just a quick read on Wilks’ record and the Cardinals Win/Loss record makes it painfully obvious that the team did way better both BEFORE and AFTER he was there (and his year was their worst out of 20 years!). His lawyer’s claim is truly desperate. He actually said, “Mr. Wilks, given the same opportunity afforded to Mr. Kingsbury, surely would have succeeded as well.”
    NO. Not “surely”. Every coach before and after Wilks did better. It is nonsensical to think that some racist madness overtook the team’s management, allowing them to deliberately tank the Cardinals just to get Wilks out of there. At the end of the day, team owners want to WIN. It’s all about winning, advertising contracts, and dollar signs, not skin color.

  20. America’s become a litigious society. Nobody knows how to be at peace knowing you did the best you could in a bad situation and pursuing the next opportunity.

  21. Let’s see you have Mike Mularkey admitting he was hired before the Rooney rule was fulfilled.

    You have 2 additional coaches joining the lawsuit.

    You have Flores with a filing stating he has a memorandum sent to the Dolphins management team with the allegations of being offered pay for tanking.

    You have Flores not just making press statements but filing under oath and the pains and penalties of perjury. (Still waiting for the Dolphins legal response under those same conditions).

    You still have discovery to take place which who knows what we’ll find under those rocks.

    As an attorney I’ll say all of you folks saying he has no case don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  22. since no white coach has ever experienced similar or the same… it just proves their point…

  23. So how is this going to help the cause? So now if you hire a minority coach and fire them like any other coach they will sue. So this will make owners pass over black coaches more not hire them. Stupid law suit. Also the add on of these guys doesn’t strengthen the original case it makes it weaker.

  24. If all these coaches are so great then a team that hired all of them would have certainly won the Super Bowl or close, right?

  25. Clown show. Each new development and additional plaintiff added only demonstrates what kind of a joke this whole lawsuit has become. We’re now suing employers because you got the job, sucked, and were rightly fired?

  26. Everyone knows Wilks wasn’t going to make it…from the day he was hired. He was a mess. Horton sounds like a crybaby. And Flores’ claims on racism are just not believable. Tanking? Quite possible. But even that is to secure future wins. This is just more proof that the Rooney Rule actually harms minority coaches. Scrap it and do better with recruiting minority coaches into the pipeline. That’s the answer, not forcing teams to consider factors other than merit.

  27. ….and the complaint on Keim. Didn’t he trade David Johnson and his nightmare contract to the Texans for Hopkins. Yea, the single greatest lopsided trade in the history of the entire league. Well done Keim. Bill O’Brien! will have a key to Phoenix any time he wants o visit.

  28. Cardinals were unwatchable in 2018, among the worst offense, defense, and special teams in Wilks only year. Knew the Cards were in trouble when Wilks announced he was going to a 4-3 defense. Rosen was supposed to be the most pro-ready QB, obvious whiffed. The Josh Allen comment is revisionist history. The Cardinals have one of the best diversity records in the league. Wilks will probably win anyway

  29. I suppose if you can’t succeed on your own merits, just pull the race card!

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