‘Rife with racism’: Impact of lawsuit against NFL could be felt leaguewide

CHARLOTTE — A recently fired head coach is suing the National Football League and three teams, alleging racial discrimination in the hiring and retention of Black head coaches.

Brian Flores, who coached the Miami Dolphins for three seasons before being fired last month, claims the NFL remains “rife with racism.”

In a 58-page lawsuit filed yesterday, Flores outlined numerous instances he believes show the league’s disparities in treatment of Black head coaches, coordinators and general managers.

In the document, Flores said a recent job interview with the New York Giants was “a sham.”

He included text messages from New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick that appear to congratulate the wrong Brian, days before Flores was even interviewed. Belichick said the message was meant for Brian Daboll, who was hired last week to be the Giants’ next coach.

The lawsuit claims the organization was one of several interviewing minority candidates to simply “check the box” of the NFL’s diversity requirements.

In an interview with ESPN, former Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis said something similar happened to him in 2002.

“I did interview with the Carolina Panthers before John Fox got the job,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he’d seen reports the Panthers planned to hire Fox that Friday, but said the team still called him in for an interview that same week.

“I end up going to Charlotte and so forth and meeting with the Richardson family, and they said that wasn’t true and so forth, and they named John the head coach on Friday,” Lewis said.

Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown reached out to a spokesperson for former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. He said Richardson had nothing to say on the subject.

In the lawsuit, Flores calls for change.

It recommends increasing the influence for Black people in hiring and firing decisions in NFL jobs including general manager, head coach and coordinators. It also says teams should be required to explain those personnel decisions subjectively, in writing.

“The qualifying criteria still has to be the same, we’re not saying you don’t have to be qualified,” said Bartina Edwards, an attorney specializing in workplace rights. “It still has to be met by that pool of candidates. So you can certainly be intentional in your hiring process as long as it’s balanced and not discriminatory I don’t like for folks to say you’re giving preferential treatment. No, you’re creating balance. The law requires a non-discriminatory hiring process.”

In a response to the lawsuit, the NFL said the claims are without merit and it would defend itself against them.

“The NFL and its clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities,” the league’s statement said in part.

(WATCH BELOW: Jerry Richardson statue removed from outside Bank of America Stadium)