Accidental Bill Belichick Text Messages At Center Of Brian Flores Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against NFL, Giants
BOSTON (CBS) -- Bill Belichick texted the wrong Brian to congratulate him for getting the Giants' head coaching a job, according to a lawsuit filed by former Dolphins head coach and former Patriots assistant coach Brian Flores.
UPDATE: 'This Is Much Bigger Than Coaching': Brian Flores Explains Why He's Suing The NFL For Alleged Racism
The lawsuit showed text messages of Belichick sending congratulations to Flores for landing the Giants job on Jan. 24. That text was sent two days prior to Flores actually interviewing for the job.
After Flores initially appeared confused by the text message, he asked Belichick, "Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll. Just making sure."
Belichick replied: "Sorry - I f---ed this up. I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I'm sorry about that. BB"
A day later, Flores told CNN that Belichick did not know that the texts were going to be used in the lawsuit, and that the two have not spoken since the lawsuit was filed.
The lawsuit alleges that Flores was then "forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the Giant's [sic] new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll. Much worse, on Thursday, January 27, 2022, Mr. Flores had to give an extensive interview for a job that he already knew he would not get -- an interview that was held for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney rule."
Flores -- a native of Brooklyn -- played college football at Boston College before joining the Patriots coaching staff in 2008. He remained there through the 2018 season, when he departed to take over as the Dolphins' head coach.
The lawsuit explores the history of Black coaches having a more difficult time getting and keeping head coaching jobs, using Flores' interview as an example of a Black coach who did not have a real chance to earn the job.
"The Giants would likely have gotten away with this most insidious form of discrimination if New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick had not mistakenly disclosed it to Mr. Flores in the [attached] text messages," the lawsuit said.
It added: "This revelation not only impugns and viciously exposes the sham process to which Mr. Flores was subjected but also stands to indict the Giants' organizational hiring practices in general. It is impossible to put into words the emotions Mr. Flores felt upon learning that not only would he not be getting the Giants Head Coach job -- the job of his dreams -- but, more importantly, that he was not even being given serious consideration for the position but being treated as a box to 'check off' due to his race. Mr. Flores spent Monday evening, Tuesday and Wednesday (including a dinner with Mr. Schoen) knowing that he was walking into Thursday's interview with no chance to become the Giants Head Coach. While he would spend countless hours preparing to put his best step forward, the white men across the table from him saw and heard only one thing: a formality that had to be observed in order to name Mr. Daboll the Head Coach."
The lawsuit also alleged that Flores underwent a "sham interview" with the Broncos in 2019, before they hired Vic Fangio.
In that scenario, then-GM John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis "showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job."
The Broncos released a statement later on Tuesday, calling the allegations "blatantly false."
Daboll -- also a former Patriots assistant -- was officially introduced as the Giants' newest head coach on Monday.
"Having discovered what the Giants and the rest of the NFL had hoped to keep in the dark, Mr. Flores now brings this Class Action Complaint to shine a light on the racial injustices that take place inside the NFL and to effectuate real change for the future," the lawsuit stated.
The Giants released a statement, claiming that Flores "was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour," but that Daboll was "most qualified."
Flores was fired by the Dolphins, despite leading the team to winning seasons the past two years. He alleged in the lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him an extra $100,000 in 2019 for every game lost, so that Miami would get a better draft pick.
"The team's General Manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that [Ross] was 'mad' that Mr. Flores' success in winning games that year was 'compromising [the team's] draft position," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that after the end of the 2019 season, Ross pressured Flores to recruit "a prominent quarterback," which would have violated the league's tampering rules. Flores said he "repeatedly refused to comply with these improper directives." The suit also claims that Ross invited Flores onto his yacht for lunch, only for that same prominent quarterback to also be arriving at the marina at the same time.
"After the incident, Mr. Flores was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with," the suit said.
Flores released a statement after filing the lawsuit, saying that he understands the suit may negatively impact his chances to land another NFL head coaching job but nevertheless felt compelled to go public with the accusations.
"God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals. In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game I love and has done so much for my family and me," Flores said. "My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come."
The NFL released a statement after news of the lawsuit broke, dismissing all of Flores' claims as being "without merit."
"The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations," the statement read. "Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit."
The lawsuit claims to seek to "shine a light on the racial injustices that take place inside the NFL and to effectuate real change for the future." Additionally, the following injuncting relief is sought:
--Increasing the influence of Black individuals in hiring and termination decisions for GM, head coaching, and coordinator jobs.
--Funding a committee dedicated to sourcing Black investors to take majority ownership stakes in NFL teams.
--Requiring teams to "reduce to writing the rationale for hiring and termination decisions, including a full explanation of the basis for any subjective influences." That would include "side-by-side comparisons of objective criteria, such as past performance, experience and objective qualifications."
--Increasing the number of Black offensive and defensive coordinators, while creating and funding a training program for lower-level Black coaches to develop into coordinator level jobs.
--Incentivizing the hiring of Black GMs, head coaches and coordinators. --Creating "complete transparency with respect to pay" for all GMs, head coaches and coordinators.
The lawsuit detailed the history of Black coaches getting overlooked for jobs or fired prematurely, including Jim Caldwell, Steve Wilks, David Culley, Kris Richard, Teryl Austin, Eric Bieniemy, and Flores himself.
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