Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores claims racial discrimination in class-action lawsuit

MANHATTAN, N.Y. — Ousted Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the National Football League and three of its teams on Tuesday, citing discriminatory hiring practices.

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Update 8:13 p.m. EST Feb. 1: In a statement, the NFL said it will defend “against these claims, which are without merit.”

It added: “The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations. Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time.”

Original report: The 58-page lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unidentified individuals, ESPN reported.

According to the sports news network, Flores characterized the current NFL culture as racially segregated, likening the league’s management style to that of a plantation.

In a prepared statement attributed to Flores and issued by the law firm representing him in the case, the former Dolphins coach wrote: “God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals. In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

Flores, who led the Dolphins to a 24-25 record and failed to make the playoffs during his three-year tenure, was fired by Miami in January.

Specifically, Flores’ lawsuit alleged that he and other Black NFL coaches have been routinely denied positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, quarterbacks coaches and general managers, ESPN reported.

“(The NFL’s) 32 owners -- none of whom are Black -- profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% of whom are Black. The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars,” the lawsuit stated.

Meanwhile, the complaint included text messages from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, erroneously congratulating Flores for landing the New York Giants head coaching job, when Brian Daboll had been selected.

“Sorry -- I (expletive) this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that,” Belichick said, according to the complaint.

While it would be simple to explain away the exchange as Belichick confusing two men with the same first name, Flores had not yet interviewed with the Giants, suggesting his scheduled interview was perfunctory because a decision had already been reached.

Meanwhile, the Giants issued a statement late Tuesday stating that Flores had been a contender for the top job “until the eleventh hour.”

The NFL has not yet formally responded to Flores’ complaint.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.