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Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins coach, has amended his class-action lawsuit against the NFL and its teams, accusing the Houston Texans of retaliation and adding allegations of sham interviews, incentivizing losses and pressure to improperly recruit players.

The league said Flores' original claims were without merit, but did not comment on Thursday's amended claim. The six teams involved are the Dolphins, Texans, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and Arizona Cardinals.

There are two ways to go here. Whether any laws were broken is the first thing. The second question is whether the league will react to the allegations.

Since the lawsuit was filed, the NFL has created a diversity advisory committee and imposed a new requirement for every team to hire a minority offensive assistant coach. The league did not connect the mandate to the lawsuit, and Flores called it an obvious public relations stunt.

Will the NFL make more attempts to improve its hiring policies for coaches? There are six minority head coaches in the National Football League. Would the Dolphins owner be disciplined if he offered $100,000 bonuses to lose games in order to get the No. 1 pick in the draft?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Flores as a senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach. He had previously invited others to join the lawsuit to share stories of systemic racism in the NFL.

The league said that diversity is core to everything it does, and that Flores claims are without merit, although it is conducting its own investigation into the allegations surrounding Ross.

With the help of league sources as well as a professor at the Washington College of Law, we can consider where each track could go in the coming weeks and months. After the initial filing, Duru called the suit a strong complaint and not one that was thrown at the wall or made waves in the media.

What's new in the amended complaint?

There is a lot. The Texans retaliated against Flores for filing the lawsuit by removing him from consideration for their head-coaching job. He said it was clear because of the timing of his disqualification and the hiring of Lovie Smith.

After one season with the Cards, he was fired for being 3-13. Steve Keim was suspended for five weeks that season after pleading guilty to extreme driving under the influence. Keim drafted quarterback Josh Rosen instead of taking Wilks advice to trade up for Josh Allen, according to Wilks. Allen has grown into a superstar with the Buffalo Bills after one season with Arizona.

Horton accused the team of violating the Rooney Rule by giving him a sham interview for the head-coaching job that eventually went to Mike Mularkey. The link to the 2020 interview was included in the complaint. Mularkey called it a fake interview process, a phrase that seems to put the NFL on the spot.

Flores revealed that a memo was sent in December to memorialize Mr. Ross' desire to have Miami lose games.

What exactly is a 'sham interview'?

Black coaches have said privately for years that they receive job interest to fulfill the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview two external minority candidates for vacant head-coaching jobs, but are not considered serious candidates for many openings. Three days before he interviewed for the Giants vacant spot, Flores received word that the job would go to Brian Daboll of the Bills. Flores produced text messages from the New England coach who appeared to be aware of the impending hire.

In addition, Flores said that Broncos officials arrived late to a head-coaching interview in 2019 and alleged they had been drinking heavily the night before, suggesting they did not take his interview seriously before they hired Vic Fangio, who is white.

The Giants said in a statement that Brian Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour, and the Broncos said the interview started on time.


Brian Flores was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a linebackers coach.

Was Horton's interview with the Titans a sham?

That is what he claims, and it appears to be supported by Mularkey's account. Horton said that the team asked him to interview on one day's notice in an attempt to make it appear that the team had complied with the Rooney Rule and given equal opportunity to Black candidates.

Horton was informed of the decision by a call shortly after the interview. Mularkey said he was told he would get the job before Horton.

According to the lawsuit, the TITANS misrepresented to Mr. Horton that he had a chance at the Head Coach position. The interview was illegitimate and the decision to hire Mr. Mularkey had already been made.

The league said in a statement that it was not aware of the interview.

Are 'sham interviews' illegal?

Federal and state civil/human rights statutes are intended to ensure equal rights. He will file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a precondition for a claim under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The people have two options at that point. They can claim discrimination if they have proof of discrimination. It requires proof that a policy or standard impacts minorities differently than others.

How does Wilks' situation fit in?

During his time in Arizona, there was a personalized account of claims of double standards for Black coaches. Keim was given a contract extension at the same time as he was fired, despite his poor season. Kliff Kingsbury, who replaced Wilks, had a 5-10-1 record in his first season.

Mr. Wilks is not an exception to the rule. The discrimination towards Mr. Wilks is just part of the pattern and practice of discrimination in the NFL when it comes to the head coach, coordinators and executive hiring and employment decisions.

Steve Wilks went 3-13 as coach of the Cardinals in 2018. He is now the Panthers' secondary coach. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

What does it mean that three coaches are now involved?

The individual allegations help create a pattern of behavior to support the initial claims. Even though they have not joined the class action, Jim Caldwell, Kris Richard, and Teryl Austin are examples of other Black NFL coaches who have had experience with the class action.

So when does the trial start?

It doesn't work like that. The judicial system is not generally called for in standard NFL contracts. According to the amended complaint, the Dolphins have asked the league to enforce the agreement, as the league has attempted to do with a lawsuit filed by Jon Gruden, but there has been no formal filing yet. The NFL hired a firm that included a former U.S. Attorney General.

If the case stays in the courts, discovery would allow both sides to view relevant documents.

In a number of high-profile legal actions in recent years, the NFL has avoided public disclosure of the discovery process. Significant legal proceedings often take months to get started in meaningful ways, and the timetable at this early stage is unknown.

The Rooney Rule legislates interview policies, but is there really any way to force owners to make diverse hires?

That is the central despair of advocates in this space, which has led to a split screen of sorts. On the other hand, the league executives have pleaded for change. The owners make their own decisions.

There is no social justice without racial justice, and there is a connection between disparate hiring practices and that, according to Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. It suggests that there is a racial aspect to it.

The attorneys for Flores used statements from other people as evidence in the lawsuit. Rooney Rule initiatives designed to introduce them to a diverse candidate pool they might not otherwise seek out have not changed the hiring practices of the NFL owners. The complaint demands that owners change because they are acting illegally.

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There will be court-ordered systemic reform if he succeeds in his case. It was unfortunate that it came to a lawsuit, because the arguments Brian is making have been made many times. The progress has not been consistent.

His lawsuit alleges incontrovertible evidence that the league's equal opportunity initiatives were purposely and openly violated. There hasn't been a paper trail like this before, but we've seen strong arguments that this has happened in the past.

What is Flores seeking?

The original lawsuit stated that Flores was seeking.

  • Black people have increased influence in hiring.

  • Increased objectionivity of hiring/terminating GMs, head coaches and coordinators.

  • There has been an increase in the number of Black coordinators.

  • Black GMs, head coaches and coordinators are rewarded with incentives.

  • There is transparency of pay for GMs.

Concrete suggestions were added to the amended lawsuit.

  • An appointment of a monitor.

  • Black ownership was promoted.

  • There is a ban on forced arbitration.

Flores was hired by the Steelers. Did that disprove his allegations?

Speaking prior to the hiring, Duru said it wouldn't change his core argument.

Flores accusations are specific and global. A job as an assistant coach with one franchise wouldn't change the facts of what Flores alleged happened at another. The pattern of hirings and firings laid out in the complaint would not be changed by it.

The lawsuit would proceed after the Flores hire was announced.

While coach Flores is focused on his new position, he will continue with his race discrimination class action so that real change can be made in the NFL.

Is it illegal to pay, or offer to pay, coaches money to lose games?

It is possible, especially as it relates to sports gambling, that an owner would pay a player or coach to lose.

Flores accused Ross of violating the Sports Bribery Act, which makes illegal any scheme in commerce to influence, in any way, a sporting contest, with knowledge that the purpose of such scheme is to influence.

Brian Flores was hired in February as the Steelers' defensive assistant and linebackers coach. Photo by Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports

According to Duru and other sources, offering $100,000 to a coach for losing games is an example of conduct detrimental to the league, which is prohibited under the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The policy applies to everyone in the league, including owners, and states that ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the personal conduct policy occur.

Flores said that it would be disrespectful to try not to win games.

But didn't the NFL say the allegations were 'without merit'?

The wording was in response to a lawsuit. There was no merit to the accusation that laws were broken.

The allegations against Ross are being looked into by the in-house investigation team, led by special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel. The investigation is not finished yet, but Commissioner Roger Goodell promised to make the findings public. Flores claimed in the amended briefing that he was made to feel uncomfortable because of his decision not to tank in order to get the top pick in the 2020 draft.

It will be difficult for the NFL to ignore this accusation. The House Ways and Means committee is investigating itself after it tried to minimize its public acknowledgment of a sexual harassment investigation in the Washington Commanders workplace.

So what could happen to Ross?

Multiple owners have been fined and suspended by the NFL in recent years. It has drawn well-deserved skepticism for its relative leniency and lack of transparency behind the preceding investigations and ultimate punishment, most recently with the Commanders and owner Dan Snyder, whom the NFL said would cede day-to-day operation of the franchise to his wife, Tanya. The team was fined $10 million.

The big question is if the NFL would force Ross to sell the franchise. There is no precedent for it in modern league history. Jerry Richardson sold his franchise after allegations of workplace misconduct, but he wrote at the time that the decision was his.

Is Ross' alleged offer more common than we realize?

We know for certain that the system for drafting college players in the NFL encourages tanking. The team with the worst record picks first. No owner has ever been accused of paying a contracted employee off the books, and that is a violation of the constitution.

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