2 other black coaches join Brian Flores in lawsuit alleging racial discrimination

NEW YORK (AP) — Two black coaches joined Brian Flores Thursday in his lawsuit accusing the NFL of racist hiring practices when there are openings for coaches and general managers.

The updated lawsuit in Manhattan federal court added coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton.

The lawsuit alleges that Wilks was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 when he was hired as a “bridge coach” but was given no significant chance of success, while Horton was subjected to discriminatory treatment when doing a sham interview for the Tennessee Titans received the position of head coach in January 2016.

Flores also criticized the NFL in the rewritten lawsuit for its response to the lawsuit he filed against them and their teams a few weeks ago.

The lawsuit added the Houston Texans to the teams Flores allegedly discriminated against him, saying the Texans took “blatant retaliation” by disqualifying him from consideration for his head coaching position after he sued the league had.

In a press release from the lawsuit’s attorneys, Wilks said he hoped the lawsuit would help bring racial equality to the league. Arizona replaced Wilks with Kliff Kingsbury, a white man with no NFL coaching experience, and gave a white general manager an overtime despite a drunk driving conviction.

“When Coach Flores filed this lawsuit, I knew I owed it to myself and to all black NFL coaches and prospective coaches to stand by him,” Wilks said. “This lawsuit has shed another important light on a problem we all know exists but too few are willing to address. Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same opportunities to be hired and remain employed as white coaches and candidates. “

Horton said he was “devastated and humiliated” to learn his interview with the Titans was a farce.

“By joining this cause, I hope to turn that experience into a positive one and bring about lasting change and create true equality of opportunity in the future,” he said.

The NFL declined to comment Thursday.

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“The decisions we made after the 2018 season were very difficult,” the Arizona Cardinals said in a statement. “But as we said at the time, they were driven solely by what was in the best interests of our organization and necessary for the betterment of the team. We are confident that the facts reflect this and show that these allegations are untrue.”

Houston said in a statement that the search for a head coach was “very thorough and comprehensive.”

“Based on his past successes as a coach in the NFL, Brian Flores was among the first candidates we formally interviewed for the position and he remained a candidate to the end,” it said. “We have enjoyed our many conversations with Brian about his vision for our organization.”

It added: “In the end we made the decision to hire Lovie Smith as our head coach and we believe he would be the best fit for our team to move forward. It was a very fluid process that allowed us to spend time with a number of quality candidates. We are proud of our decision and will vigorously defend our case.”

Smith, who is black, was announced as the Texans’ head coach in February. He served as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2021.

The Titans issued a statement defending their 2016 coach selection process as “thoughtful and competitive,” saying it followed NFL policies and its organizational values.

“We conducted extensive face-to-face interviews with four talented individuals, two of whom were different candidates. No decision was made and no decision communicated until all interviews were completed,” the Titans said.

The Titans completed their interview with Horton at noon on January 16, 2016 and announced that hours later Mularkey was hired. Mularkey said on a podcast in 2020 that he still regrets attending the interview process after being told he would be the Titans’ head coach before they fulfilled the Rooney Rule.

“I sat there knowing I was 16 the head coach when they went through this fake hiring process…” Mularkey then said. “I’m sorry I did that.

Flores sued the NFL and three teams on Feb. 1 after being fired as coach of the Miami Dolphins in January after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight season but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure.

Since then he has been hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant coach.

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In Thursday’s updated lawsuit, Flores attorneys noted that the NFL responded to February’s lawsuit by saying it was “baseless,” but its executives have issued statements and taken steps in “unguarded moments” that showed that she “reluctantly acknowledged the decades”. -long problem of systemic discrimination.”

The lawsuit continues to seek class-action status and unspecified damages from the league and individual teams. It is alleged that the league discriminated against Flores and other black coaches on racial grounds, denying them head coaching and other top coaching positions and the chance to be general manager.

It also underscores the lack of progress in the two decades since the “Rooney Rule” — named after former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney — was created to give more minority candidates the opportunity to become head coach.

In 2020, the NFL amended the Rooney Rule to specify that teams must submit at least two minority candidates unaffiliated with their team for a head coaching position and one minority candidate for coordinator positions and senior front office positions, including general manager, have to interview.

Last month, the NFL changed it again to require its 32 clubs to hire a woman or member of an ethnic or racial minority to serve as an offensive assistant coach.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 2 other black coaches join Brian Flores in lawsuit alleging racial discrimination

Dais Johnston

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