The court of public opinion has been in session for several days ever since former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and its clubs for racial discrimination.
Flores continued his tour of sympathetic media with a stop at National Public Radio. And while there, he addressed his frustration with the New York Giants over what he believes was a sham interview for their vacant head coach job — a job that eventually went to Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who is white.
“There was a text message from Bill Belichick that confirmed a lot of the things that I believed were going on for, you know, blacks, minorities in the hiring process,” Flores told NPR. “Interviews that blacks and minorities were going on that weren’t getting a true opportunity in those interviews to showcase our abilities, and me personally, to showcase my abilities.
“To walk into an interview where a decision has already been made, that was the tipping point for me.”
Flores contends New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick knew days before he (Flores) interviewed that Daboll was already getting the job. Indeed, Flores has presented text messages from Belichick suggesting as much as evidence in his lawsuit.
“I do think there are back-channel conversations, back-channel meetings, that are had, that oftentimes influence decisions,” Flores said. “And I think that’s a clear example of that. That’s Bill Belichick. His résumé speaks for itself. He has influence.
“I think to me it was clear that that decision was made with his influence, and that’s part of the problem. And that needs to change. There needs to be a fair and equal opportunity to interview and showcase, like I said before, your abilities to lead and earn one of those positions.”
Flores has a couple of problems here:
One, he’s going to need proof, and he was neither pressed for any nor offered any in the interview.
Secondly, the Giants on Thursday came at him like one of those zero blitzes Flores so often used as a defensive-minded coach in Miami. The Giants attacked practically every assertion about them Flores made in the lawsuit and ensuing interviews.
“Brian Flores has raised serious issues in the filing of his complaint,” the Giants said in a statement. “The specific claims against the Giants and Mr. Flores’ allegations about the legitimacy of his candidacy for our head coach position are disturbing and simply false.
“After we interviewed six exceptional and diverse candidates, the decision on who we would hire as head coach was made on the evening of January 28, one day after Mr. Flores spent an entire day in our offices going through his second interview for the position, meeting with ownership and other staff members, and receiving a tour of our facility.
“There is additional concrete and objective evidence to substantiate we did not make our decision until the evening of the 28th.”
An NFL source said the Giants have internal communications that show they had not made their hiring decision before Flores was interviewed.
“The allegation that the Giants’ decision had been made prior to Friday evening, January 28, is false,” the Giants statement continues. “And to base that allegation on a text exchange with Bill Belichick in which he ultimately states that he ‘thinks’ Brian Daboll would get the job is irresponsible.
“The text exchange occurred the day before coach Daboll’s in-person interview even took place. Giants’ ownership would never hire a head coach based only on a 20-minute Zoom interview, which is all that Mr. Daboll had at that point.”
And then the zinger:
“In addition, Mr. Belichick does not speak for and has no affiliation with the Giants. Mr. Belichick’s text exchange provides no insight into what actually transpired during our head coaching search.”
The Giants then did something the NFL and attorneys for the various teams named in the lawsuit are likely to do, which is use Flores’ own words to the media against him.
“In his CBS interview [Wednesday], Mr. Flores was asked if ‘clubs have the right to hire the person they think is the best qualified for the job or the person they feel is right for them?’ Mr. Flores responded, ‘They do. That’s very reasonable to me…’ That is exactly what we did.”
So far this hiring cycle, six teams have filled head coaching vacancies, and all have been filled by white men, including the Jacksonville Jaguars hiring Doug Pederson on Thursday night.
In his suit, Flores is, in part, calling out the NFL’s hiring practices because black coaches have not been hired at a rate proportional to the NFL’s percentage of black players.
The coincidence in this is Flores himself was in a position to hire coaches during his three-year tenure as coach of the Dolphins. And his record hiring minorities is not stellar.
Flores had 20 coaches on his 2021 coaching staff, with 15 of those white and five black.
Flores hired four offensive coordinators during his time with the Dolphins, including co-coordinators in 2021. Three of those four are white.
Flores hired four offensive line coaches during his tenure, and three of those four are white.
Flores hired two defensive coordinators during his time as head coach, one black and one white.
Flores hired four quarterback or assistant quarterback coaches during his three years, and three of those four are white, with Jim Caldwell the only exception. Caldwell, it should be noted, worked under Flores for a couple of months but departed before the 2019 season began, citing health issues.
Flores hired one special teams coordinator during his time as coach, that being Danny Crossman, who is white.
Maybe the coach claiming the NFL’s hiring practices are unfair should have addressed his own first.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero