Brian Flores’ uphill battle against the NFL shows flaws in the league’s hiring process

On Feb. 1, the former Miami Dolphins head coach filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 teams

It’s not unusual for drama to surface in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. For some reason, the extra week of hiatus (ignoring the Pro Bowl, because I honestly don’t know a single person who cares) tends to stir the kettle of NFL headlines.

A little over a week ago, Brian Flores’ NFL lawsuit became this year’s pre-Super Bowl noise that dominated sports media. Among the many allegations outlined in his 58-page filing, the former Dolphins head coach spoke out about his personal experience with racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process. The story was a topic of discussion on mainstream news platforms and late-night talk shows in the days following the allegations. I won’t go into the details here but there’s no shortage of information available, and Flores has since spoken about the lawsuit in an interview on ESPN’s “Get Up.”

Super Bowl LVI will be a wildly entertaining and eventful distraction, as the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams battle for a once-in-a-lifetime chance at immortality. But once the limelights dim, I hope developments in Flores’ situation continue to nab the attention of sports fans.

Objectively, Flores is qualified to coach an NFL franchise. He put in the groundwork as a scout and assistant coach in New England, winning four Super Bowl rings with the Patriots. In his two-year tenure as head coach of the Dolphins, the 40-year-old helped produce consecutive winning seasons. Nonetheless, he was inexplicably fired shortly after the 2021-22 regular season, a decision that shocked most people in the sports world. 

There is an esteemed list of premier head coaches in the NFL, including the likes of Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, and Andy Reid to name a few. Flores doesn’t have the pedigree to be on that echelon yet, but purely from a football perspective, he is a coaching talent that should be highly sought by most NFL teams, in theory.

At the time of this writing, there are two Black head coaches across 32 teams (one before the Houston Texans announced the hiring of Lovie Smith on Feb. 7). When you consider the fact that 70 per cent of the players in the NFL are Black, something obviously doesn’t add up. 

By speaking out, it’s likely Flores has jeopardized his career as an NFL head coach by choosing this path against the league. But no matter the legal outcome, the attention he has drawn will hopefully set up an infrastructure that allows minority coaches an equal opportunity at success.

 

Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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