Hired or Fired

A look into Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL


The Boston Globe

Coach Brian Flores alleges that racism is inherent in the NFL’s hiring practices.

On January 10, 2022, the Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores was fired. This action not only sparked confusion from NFL players, but also Dolphins fans. Eventually on Tuesday, February 1, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams: the Broncos, Dolphins, and Giants. The lawsuit claims that Flores was racially discriminated against in the hiring and firing process for these teams.

Adopted in 2003, the Rooney Rule was introduced to “increase the number of minorities hired in head coach, general manager, and executive positions,” according to NFL.com’s rules website. This policy requires every team to include at least one minority in the running for a vacant head coaching job. However, looking at the demographic of NFL head coaches, there are only two black Head Coaches; Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and recently Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans. The court case includes evidence that something is clearly wrong with the Rooney Rule.

In the three years Flores was in Miami, he led the team to a 24-25 overall record. In his last two seasons his team just barely missed the playoffs with 10-6 and 9-8 records. Flores was also responsible for drafting many star players on the current Dolphins roster, such as Jalen Waddle and Tua Tagovailoa.

Especially after the firing of Flores, many are left wondering: Is the Rooney rule really effective? The short answer is no. After the 2021-2022 season, there were five teams with Head Coach vacancies. None were filled by a minority, yet one POC was at least in the race for all of them.  Instead, Flores and others argue that the hiring system itself is systematically racist.

On January 27, Flores was to meet with the New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen for the Head Coach position. Schoen also talked to, now former, offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, Brian Daboll. In interviewing Flores, the Giants fulfilled the Rooney Rule. After the interview, Flores reported that it was a “sham.” Flores believes that teams sometimes pretend to consider POC candidates for the job; they just want to fulfill the Rooney Rule. According to Flores’s lawsuit, Bill Belichick, Head Coach of the New England Patriots, texted Flores congratulating him on the hire. However, this text was sent before Flores went to the interview. Belichick did not know that Flores was being interviewed by the Giants. He intended to send the text to Daboll. Flores still went into the interview but was officially notified later that Daboll received the job. A very similar occurrence occurred in 2019 when Flores interviewed for the Denver Broncos.