The Broncos, Giants and Dolphins all released statements, in addition to the NFL, in response to Brian Flores’s proposed class action lawsuit.
The former Miami coach is suing the league, the three franchises and unidentified individuals, alleging discrimination and racism in hiring practices. Among the complaints listed in the filing, Flores said he took part in two ”sham“ interviews as teams attempted to comply with the Rooney Rule, citing the Giants and Broncos.
Flores claims New York had already made the decision to hire Brian Daboll when they were still scheduled to interview Flores last month—which Patriots coach Bill Belichick accidentally revealed to him in a text message, according to the complaint.
“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the Giants said in their statement. “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.”
As for Denver in 2019, then-general manager John Elway, president and CEO Joe Ellis and others who were part of the interview process allegedly showed up an hour late, per the copy of the complaint.
“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before,” the complaint read. “It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”
The Broncos released a statement following the lawsuit going public, saying in full, “The allegations from Brian Flores directed toward the Denver Broncos in today’s court filing are blatantly false. Our interview with Mr. Flores regarding our head coaching position began promptly at the scheduled time of 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2019, in a Providence, R.I., hotel. There were five Broncos executives present for the interview, which lasted approximately three-and-a-half hours—the fully allotted time—and concluded shortly before 11 a.m.
“Pages of detailed notes, analysis and evaluations from our interview demonstrate the depth of our conversation and sincere interest in Mr. Flores as a head coaching candidate. Our process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position.
"The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization—and its employees—from such baseless and disparaging claims.”
Two damning allegations were made against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in the class action complaint. Flores claims the team owner offered him a $100,000 bonus for each loss during the 2019 season, in which Ross apparently wanted to secure the league’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft. Flores says he didn’t comply with the request.
Ross also allegedly wanted Flores to recruit “a prominent quarterback” who was under contract with another team during a meeting on the owner’s yacht. The coach refused and left the boat before the player may have arrived.
The complaint reads: “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.”
The Dolphins released the following statement, per ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, “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 a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”
The 40-year-old was fired by the franchise in January after posting a 24–25 record over three years, narrowly missing the playoffs in his final two seasons. Per the complaint, the basis for his firing “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,” the complaint read.
He released a statement Tuesday after filing the proposed class-action suit.
“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,” Flores said. “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.”
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