Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton have joined the accusations made against the NFL regarding racial discrimination in the hiring process.
The federal class-action lawsuit, started by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, will now include separate accounts of alleged discrimination against Wilks and Horton.
Horton’s accusation of discriminative practices focused on the Titans during their search for a head coach leading up to the 2016-17 season.
After working as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator for two seasons (2014-2015), Horton received an interview for the Titans’ vacant role, which eventually went to Mike Mularkey.
Horton’s lawsuit against the Titans claims that the team had allegedly offered the position to Mularkey before proceeding to interview racially diverse candidates.
Mularkey stated during a podcast interview in 2020 that his addition to Tennessee’s coaching staff was a challenging transition behind the scenes.
“I allowed myself at one point when I was in Tennessee to get caught up in something I regret,” Mularkey said, “and I still regret it, but the ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule.”
“And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in 2016, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing, knowing a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to get that job.”
Tennessee went 9-7 in their first year under Mularkey.
Steve Wilks joins the amended lawsuit after accusing the Arizona Cardinals of making him a “bridge coach,” reports NFL.com.
Wilks only worked as the Cardinals coach for one season in 2018 and was fired after finishing the year 3-13.
The former HC’s evidence of discrimination centered on the differing treatment toward succeeding Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim, who are both White.
Wilks accused the organization of handing soft disciplines to Steve Keim — who had been arrested for a DUI early in Wilks’ first year as head coach.
As for Kingsbury, Wilks accused the Cardinals of granting privilege to the HC after he went 5-1-10 his first season.
Also adding to the amended lawsuit, submitted Thursday in the Southern District of New York, was another allegation of discrimination by Flores, now zeroing in on the Houston Texans.
Flores’ latest hit condemns the Texans for allegedly dropping his name from their head-coaching consideration over his lawsuit against the NFL at the time of the interviews.
The former Dolphins coach claimed that the team eventually hired fellow Black coach, Lovie Smith, to both fulfill an outcry for a minority hire, as long as it did not include Flores.
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