If Brian Flores’ accusations are true, NFL must drop hammer on Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross

Brian Flores' lawsuit against the NFL and others includes bombshell information about Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

MOBILE, AL — If the allegations made by Brian Flores against the Miami Dolphins in a federal class-action racial discrimination lawsuit are true, the NFL must suspend Stephen Ross, fine him heavily, and perhaps even strip the team of draft picks.

Brian Flores accuses Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of major wrongdoing

Flores, in a lawsuit that shook the NFL world Tuesday, alleges that Ross first offered him $100,000 per loss during their tank season of 2019. Then, Ross allegedly ostracized Flores and ultimately fired him for not participating in a prohibited scheme to lure “a prominent quarterback” to the Dolphins in the winter of 2020.

PFN’s Tony Pauline reported at the time that the Dolphins had interest in signing then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, but he ultimately chose the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent. The rumor in South Florida has long been that Brady would have more seriously considered joining the Dolphins in 2020 if Flores was not the head coach.

This is serious, ugly stuff and goes to the heart of the integrity of the league. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, who is here this week for the Senior Bowl, was not made available to reporters Tuesday, but the Dolphins did release the following statement:

“We are aware of the lawsuit through the media reports that came out this afternoon. We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. The implication that we acted in any manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”

Grier is leading the search for Flores’ replacement. San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore are the team’s two known finalists.

Flores sues Dolphins, Giants, Broncos, and NFL

Flores named the Dolphins, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and the National Football League as defendants in the suit, which might never have been filed if not for an errant text message Patriots coach Bill Belichick sent Flores last week.

Belichick mistakenly believed the Giants had offered Flores their head coach job — before Flores had even interviewed. Turns out, Belichick had the wrong “Brian.” It was Brian Daboll who the Giants coveted and ultimately hired. The crux of Flores’ legal complaint is that this was evidence that the league’s Rooney Rule, which mandates teams to interview minority candidates for top jobs, is a sham.

Appearing on CBS Mornings on Tuesday (February 2), Flores said he had a range of emotions after the text messages, including humiliation, disbelief, and anger.

“I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am in football to become a head coach. I put 18 years in this league and to go on what was a sham interview, I was hurt.”

So why did Flores still take the interview? He said, “There’s still hope – the audacity of hope. I have a belief that there’s good in people.”

Flores wants changes to NFL policies

Flores believes that teams often simply go through the motions when fulfilling those required interviews. He believes the Broncos did just that when they interviewed him for their opening in 2019.

On CBS Good Mornings, Flores said, “The Rooney Rule is an opportunity for minorities to sit down with ownership, but what it has turned to is that guys are just checking the box. I’ve been in interviews before where I’ve had that feeling. There’s no way to know for sure.”

His lawsuit seeks to fix that by demanding certain changes, including:

  • Increase the influence of Black individuals in hiring and termination decisions for GM, head coach, and offensive and defensive coordinator positions
  • Increase the objectivity of hiring and termination decisions for those positions
  • Increase the number of Black offensive and defensive coordinators

“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,” Flores said in a release put out by the law firm representing him in the case. “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.”

New York Giants, NFL deny Flores’ accusation

The NFL said that Flores’ claims are “without merit” and that the league and its member clubs “are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations.”

The Giants denied any wrongdoing in a statement of their own:

“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll. We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach.”

Flores’ allegations against the Dolphins

Flores’ allegations against the Dolphins included some pretty precise details. Here are several of them from the lawsuit.

Ross allegedly offered Flores $100,000 for every loss

“In January 2022, Mr. Flores, who spent three years as the Head Coach of Defendant Miami Dolphins, Ltd. (the ‘Dolphins’ or ‘Miami’), found himself without a job. He was fired by the Dolphins after leading the team to its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003. The purported basis for his termination was alleged poor collaboration.

In reality, the writing had been on the wall since Mr. Flores’ first season as Head Coach of the Dolphins, when he refused his owner’s directive to ‘tank’ for the first pick in the draft. Indeed, during the 2019 season, Miami’s owner, Stephen Ross, told Mr. Flores that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss, and the team’s General Manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that ‘Steve’ was ‘mad’ that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was ‘compromising [the team’s] draft position.'”

Ross allegedly pressured Flores to recruit “a prominent quarterback”

“After the end of the 2019 season, Mr. Ross began to pressure Mr. Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of League tampering rules. Mr. Flores repeatedly refused to comply with these improper directives. Undeterred, in the winter of 2020, Mr. Ross invited Mr. Flores onto a yacht for lunch. Shortly after he arrived, Mr. Ross told Mr. Flores that the prominent quarterback was ‘conveniently’ arriving at the marina.

Obviously, Mr. Ross had attempted to ‘set up’ a purportedly impromptu meeting between Mr. Flores and the prominent quarterback. Mr. Flores refused the meeting and left the yacht immediately. After the incident, Mr. Flores was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.”

Flores then labeled as someone difficult to work with

“From that point forward, Mr. Flores was ostracized and ultimately he was fired. He was subsequently defamed throughout the media and the League as he was labeled by the Dolphins brass as someone who was difficult to work with. This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes.”

What’s next for Brian Flores?

Flores is a candidate for two head coach positions – the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints. He was asked on CBS Good Mornings why he did this, knowing he could risk his coaching career.

“I let both teams know they were going to file. I love coaching and am gifted to coach. This is bigger than coaching…I understand the risks and I went back and forth with this. I love coaching, I’m passionate about it. It brings me joy and I love helping young people reach their potential but this is bigger than that.”

Ultimately, for Flores, it’s about making a change that is bigger than him and bigger than football.

“I absolutely want to coach in this league. But I know I’m not the only story here. There are people who have come before me and I know there are others who have similar stories. It’s hard to speak out. You’re making some sacrifices, but this is bigger than football.”

Read the full Class Action Complaint here. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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