(MIAMI) — Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is sounding off about the NFL’s response to his lawsuit accusing the league of racial discrimination.
Flores spoke with ABC News’ “Nightline” about his suit, filed Tuesday, and dismissed the league’s statement that his claims were “without merit” and criticized the league saying it is “committed to ensuring equitable employment practices.”
Flores said it was a “slap in the face” because there is only one Black head coach in the NFL despite the fact Black players make up 70% of the league.
“It speaks to a lack of belief not wanting to believe the facts [and] the numbers,” Flores told ABC News. “There’s a little bit of a fantasy land that would leave them to feel like, you know, these things are without merit.”
Flores, 40, filed his 60-page suit against the league contending it has a history of racism especially when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black head coaches.
Flores, who was let go as the head coach of the Dolphins last month, cited a recent opportunity when he was asked to meet with the owners of the New York Giants to interview for their open head coaching job.
Watch Brian Flores’ full interview with “Nightline” Wednesday night at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.
The suit included what he says are screengrabs of text messages from his mentor, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who congratulated Flores on getting hired by the Giants before the interview took place. Belichick later allegedly texted back indicating that he’d made a mistake and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was actually getting the job — three days before Flores’ interview.
Flores, who was coming off back-to-back winning seasons with the Dolphins, said he wasn’t mad at Belichick but was in disbelief and angry after reading the messages.
“There’s a humiliation that came over me,” he said. “Why wasn’t I afforded the opportunity to truly interview and show what I can do? Because I am a good coach and I do relate to players and I know how to lead.”
Belichick hasn’t responded to the allegations.
Flores accused the Giants of requesting an interview simply to fill the quota of interviewing a minority candidate outlined in the league’s Rooney Rule. The Giants denied that claim, saying in a statement, “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.”
The league put out a statement Tuesday claiming, “the NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations.”
Flores’ lawsuit also cites the use of race-norming in the league’s concussion settlement program, which was the subject of a previous ABC News investigation, as indicative of its broader attitude toward Black players and coaches.
“The NFL took the position that white people simply have better baseline cognitive function than Black people,” Flores’ suit said.
“It just gives you how they view Black people as being inferior intellectually to white people,” Doug Wigdor, Flores’ attorney, told ABC News.
The NFL previously told ABC News that the concussion settlement “relied on widely accepted and long-established cognitive tests and scoring methodologies.”
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, unspecified damages and changes to ensure the hiring of more Black coaches, coordinators and front office personnel.
“Those coaches could set an example for the Black players in the league that they can strive and be in those types of leadership positions,” Flores said. “We filed because this is bigger than football.”
Flores said he is hopeful he can coach again and would take up any opportunity offered.
“I think what I’m doing now speaks to leadership, speaks to sacrifice. I mean what more would you want to exemplify from your team?” he said.
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