Armando Salguero: Brian Flores Suit Could Take Down Miami Dolphins Owner

Right there, in its preliminary statement on the second page of a 58-page class action suit, former NFL coach Brian Flores claims the NFL “is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation” from America’s pre-Civil War South.

“It’s 32 owners — none of whom are black — profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70 percent of whom are black,” the Flores suit states. “The owners watch the game 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.”

So, yes, the lawsuit Flores and his lawyers filed Tuesday in United States District Court Southern District of New York is incendiary in both hyperbole and allegation.

And, yes, it takes a torch to NFL teams, owners, and general managers. It names names.

And, yes, Flores understands he may never coach in the league again because this is the kind of bridge burning from which few careers in any profession typically recover.

Not when you break trust with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick by publishing his private texts.

Not when you claim former Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and club president Joe Ellis showed up to work either drunk or hung over on the day they interviewed Flores for the club’s head coaching job in 2019.

Not when you claim the New York Giants, who play in the same town where the NFL is headquartered and are one of the league’s legacy teams, conducted a sham interview with Flores to “demonstrate falsely to the league commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

And most definitely not when you claim Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ordered Flores to “tank” and even offered him money to lose games on purpose.

All of these are mind-blowing allegations, and it gets uglier for Ross because Flores also claims the team owner asked him to violate the NFL’s tampering policy and try to recruit a “prominent quarterback,” who everyone now understands to be Tom Brady, to the Dolphins.

Someone who pulls back the curtain to this degree must hope to fundamentally change the NFL because he’ll never work in the league again unless there’s a massive transformation.

The guess here is there will not be a massive transformation, at least not in regards to the bottom line, which is NFL owners will continue to hire the general managers and head coaches they want.

Those billionaires will generally continue to pick the people they feel are the best fits for their clubs. And there’s no exact science for measuring that and certainly no dynamic anyone knows of for making sure minorities, usually black men, fill a proportionate number of available openings.

Proving racism in court, in other words, is going to be a bear for Flores and his legal team.

He thought he had trouble the first eight games of the 2021 season when his Dolphins lost seven games in a row? Wait until he sees the NFL walk into court with their dozen or so lawyers and the Giants walk into court with their handful of lawyers and the Broncos walk into court with their handful and so on.

The truth is this suit may never get to court because the NFL will try to squash it before it even reaches the discovery phase, before its people are asked to turn over documents or sit for depositions.

And even if we get to trial, how does Flores prove the Denver Broncos intended to be racially biased against him when the coach they hired before him, Vance Joseph, is black?

How does Flores show racial discrimination against the Dolphins when they hired him to be their head coach in 2019?

And hired Chris Grier, a black man, to be their general manager in 2016?

And hired Marvin Allen, a black man, as their assistant GM in 2019?

And hired Reggie McKenzie, a black man, as a senior personnel executive in 2019?

Flores’s case may have merit, but presenting convincing proof that jurors accept as fact is another matter.

Ironically, the biggest change this racial discrimination lawsuit is likely to bring is with the team that gave Flores his only chance to be a head coach: the Dolphins.

The racial allegations Flores makes against that team — that they painted him as, his words, “an angry black man” after he was fired — frankly, won’t hold water unless Flores is privy to internal communication among club personnel calling him out for being hard to get along with because he’s black.

It’s actually in the Dolphins’ interest for Flores to be seen in a positive light and for him to prosper and get hired by another team as soon as possible so the team wouldn’t be on the hook for the remaining two years of his contract.

So that’s not where the Dolphins are likely to get scorched by this lawsuit.

The reason they’re at risk of a seismic scandal is the Flores allegations go directly to integrity of the game issues.

Because Flores painted the organization in general and Ross specifically as tearing at the very fabric of competition by not always playing to win.

“The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect,” the Dolphins said in a statement Tuesday. “We will withhold further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”

That’s good because nothing the Dolphins can say on that front is going to help.

The truth is, they tanked in 2019.

I reported in a January 2019 column for the Miami Herald that the words “tank” and “tanking” were expressly used in at least one head coach interview conducted by Ross and his group.

Anyone who saw Grier dismantle the 2018 roster and do little to rebuild it for 2019, other than make his draft selections, understood the Dolphins weren’t trying to field a competitive team.

And now Flores claims in the suit that Ross told him “that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss, and the team’s general manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that ‘Steve’ was ‘mad’ that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was ‘compromising [the team’s] draft position.”

You see those quotation marks around the words “Steve” and “mad”? They suggest Flores has an email, voicemail, text or other documentation from Grier relaying that message.

If that’s the case, if there is even a shred of corroboration to the Flores allegations anywhere, the Dolphins are not just looking at a full blown NFL investigation but ramifications that could include Ross having to somehow give up the team.

If Flores kept any of his so-called receipts and has proof Ross wanted him to tamper with Brady, arguably the NFL’s greatest player ever, wanted Flores to lose on purpose, and offered him — let’s call them what they are — bribes to lose, then what path does Ross have for keeping this team?

This has no precedent.

The NFL has had myriad scandals, including Spygate and Deflategate in New England and Bountygate in New Orleans.

But Belichick never outed his own team in court or on national television. That’s exactly what Flores, who is scheduled to appear on CBS Wednesday morning, is doing.

And while Flores argued forcefully many times throughout the 2019 season the Dolphins were not tanking, his lawsuit now alleges something completely different. He alleges Ross instructed him to lose on purpose.

If he can prove it, it won’t matter who the Dolphins find to replace Flores in the coming days. The bigger story will be who replaces Ross in the coming months.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

11 Comments

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  1. So, I guess we know why Jim Harbaugh is NOT interviewing with “Michigan Man” Ross in Miami.
    .
    Flores MAY have some valid points re: his interview experiences … but characterizing NFL players as “slaves on a plantation” ??? Its been many years since I saw Roots but I don’t recall Kunte Kinte (LaVar Burton) being paid $$Millions$$ for picking cotton?
    .

  2. Flores may turn out to be the Ray Fisher of the NFL: Talented enough to make a living but prefers to napalm bridges when things don’t go his way.

    Anyhoo, it amazes me that a company that basically owns a day of the week puts up with all this crap. Goodell and the owners could crush this guy, I’m not sure why they don’t.

    • Why they don’t …. for the same reason the NFL gave MILLION$ to BLM … and plays the “Black National Anthem” etc etc etc. They realize 70% of their product …much higher % if you don’t count deep snappers, punters and FG kickers… is Black and could threaten to strike enmass or some other retaliatory reaction if they do not handle this with kid gloves. …. and if the NFL insults Flores, “the media” would totally back the players protest.
      .

      • Yeah, sure. What are the players going to do? Kneel more? Put Flores name on the back of their helmets?

        The NFL could end Flores right now just like WB ended Ray Fisher. However, pretending to be saints is better PR and less of a headache. All these people get what they deserve. I’ll enjoy watching the trash fire.

        P.S. Outkick, your comment system sucks.

        • Of course they (NFL) COULD; but they are scared s***less of the players (AND MEDIA) backlash.
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          The humor in all this is once an adversary knows he has intimidated you, he will never stop gigging you for whatever.
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          And Yes … OUTKICK’s Comment system does suck. A “Like” option would be nice.

  3. Yeah, sure. What are the players going to do? Kneel more? Put Flores name on the back of their helmets?

    The NFL could end Flores right now just like WB ended Ray Fisher. However, pretending to be saints is better PR and less of a headache. All these people get what they deserve. I’ll enjoy watching the trash fire.

  4. So everyone who ever hired Brian Flores is now a racist for not hiring him. Stupendous argument there. Almost as good as claiming Shad Khan is white for purposes of his lawsuit.

    Flores might want to take note of who a certain black owner in Charlotte hired to coach his NBA team. Clearly racist. YAWN

  5. Hey, BB! Any of this sound remotely familiar? (Possibilities regarding the Belichick text):

    Given his past relationship with Flores, he had probably become aware at some point that Ross had made the $100K per loss offer (now we’re hearing that it might be more common than once thought-scary if true). He was most likely made aware at some point of the unsuccessful attempted meeting with Brady which was outright tampering with THE GOAT. He obviously knew that there were two “Brian’s” up for the Giants job.

    “Genius” and “GOAT” are often used to describe Belichick, so he’s…presumedly kinda’ smart. A Divisional Rival has crossed these lines and then fired a friend of his because he was “…hard to get along with.” Hard to get along with because he showed some integrity for the game? Throw out all of the racial stuff and this is still one of (if not THE) the biggest scandal to ever come hurtling towards The Shield.

    So, there’s TWO Brians are up for the same job. How fortunate. One would think that he knew when Flores was going to be interviewed for the job. Yet the Genius supposedly makes a Big Boo-Boo, texting Flores by “accident” two days before Flores is to be interviewed to congratulate him on getting the job?! It’s like Brady looking at a deep blown coverage on Gronkowski when the defense was also off-sides. Nothing to lose and likely another touchdown.

    One of the greatest minds ever in football and gamesmanship saw an opportunity that would serve to blow up a team in his division for years to come. (You’re welcome, Bills.)

    “Ooops! Sorry, Flo’…I just reread the text and I got my Brian’s mixed up!”

    Really?

    This is all just speculation (don’t want to end up being sued by the NFL). But, I mean…come on, Bill. Your friend gets unceremoniously fired after two winning seasons, you have all of this information. You have a long, distinguished track-record of doing whatever it takes to win and a smartphone. You can’t help it! It’s the way you’re wired.

    Then you get to stand there, looking around skyward, whistling a happy tune with hands in pockets and one foot toeing the sod like…you don’t know nuthin’…as you eliminate a Divisional rival for years to come with a text!

    Now all that’s needed is for the Dolphins to hire Urban Meyer.

    Just Win, Belly!

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