NFL 'Rooney rule' ineffective says Flores after lawsuit bombshell
Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Wednesday that NFL rules requiring teams to interview minority candidates were ineffective as he prepares for an explosive legal battle against the league.
Flores rocked the NFL on Tuesday after filing a lawsuit in New York accusing the NFL and team owners of racist hiring practices that were "like a plantation."
The lawsuit comes less than a month after the highly regarded 40-year-old was fired by Miami despite leading the team to consecutive winning seasons.
Flores had since been linked to several head coaching vacancies, but opted for legal action after being passed over by the New York Giants.
In his lawsuit, Flores said he had received a message from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick offering congratulations on his appointment by the Giants.
That message turned out to be intended for Brian Daboll, who was eventually appointed as New York coach.
Flores, however, said the fact that his message from Belichick arrived three days before he was due to be interviewed by the Giants showed that NFL's vaunted "Rooney Rule" -- which mandates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operations positions -- was flawed.
"The Rooney Rule is intended to give minorities an opportunity to sit down in front of ownership," Flores told CBS television on Wednesday.
"But I think what it has turned into is an instance where guys are just checking a box. And that has been the case -- I've been on some interviews in the past where I've had that feeling, there's always no way to know for sure -- and I know I'm not alone in that."
Flores said he attended the interview with New York despite receiving the texts indicating the job had already been awarded to Daboll.
"It was a range of emotions," Flores said of the situation.
"Humiliation, disbelief, anger. I've worked so hard to get to where I am in football to become a head coach. Put 18 years in this league, and to go on what was a sham interview, I was hurt."
- 'Tanking' claim -
One of Flores's attorneys, John Elefterakis, said the lawsuit would seek to include criteria such as job performance and experience during the hiring process.
"The Rooney rule is tied to the assumption that presidents, owners are going to do the right thing and hire the best, most qualified candidate," Elefterakis told CBS.
Flores' lawsuit also included explosive allegations against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
Flores said Ross attempted to persuade him to "tank" games during the 2019 season in order to boost Miami's NFL Draft status. Flores said Ross offered him $100,000 for each defeat.
Flores told ESPN on Wednesday that he believes that his refusal to bow to the pressure was behind his eventual dismissal.
"Take a flight, go on vacation, I'll give you $100,000 per loss -- those were his exact words," Flores told ESPN.
"I deal in truth, I tell the players this, as well. I'm going to give you good news, bad news -- but it's going to be honest."
"To disrespect the game like that, trust was lost, and there were certainly some strained relationships, and ultimately, I think that was my demise in Miami."
Flores' lawsuit is the latest chapter in a long-running controversy about NFL teams' failure to hire minority coaches in a league whose playing population is roughly 70% African-American.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin is the only Black head coach in the 32-team league. Only three of the last 31 head coaches hired since 2018 were Black, and all three of those have since been fired.
Flores, meanwhile, told CBS on Wednesday that he realized he may ultimately be committing career suicide by taking on the NFL and its billionaire owners.
"I understand the risk, and yes, it was a difficult decision and I went back and forth," Flores said.
"Like I said, I love coaching, I do. It's something that I'm passionate about, it brings me joy and I love helping young people reach their potential and become the best versions of themselves. I'm gifted to do that. But this is bigger than that.
"We're at a fork in the road right now. We're either going to keep it the way it is, or we're going to go in another direction and actually make some real change."