Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three of its teams Tuesday, saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.
The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court sought class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unidentified individuals.
Flores was fired last month by Miami after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight winning season, but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure. A message sent to the NFL for comment was not immediately returned.
“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.”
The lawsuit alleged that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers.
“In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation,” the lawsuit said. “Its 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 complaint includes text messages from Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who congratulated Flores on getting hired by the Giants when he hadn’t yet interviewed.
“Sorry — I f—ed this up. I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that,” Belichick said.
The Giants named Daboll their head coach three days later.
The team issued a statement later Tuesday.
“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the Giants said. “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.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.