BOSTON (CBS) – Former Miami Dolphins head coach and former Patriots assistant Brian Flores said in an exclusive interview with CBS Mornings that he knew when filing a lawsuit against the NFL and New York Giants alleging racism that he was putting his professional future on the line. But Flores said "this is much bigger than coaching."
Flores filed the lawsuit Tuesday, including text messages from Bill Belichick congratulating him for landing the Giants job on Jan. 24. That text was sent two days prior to Flores actually interviewing for the job.
Belichick admitted he had texted the wrong Brian. The texts were intended for Brian Daboll, who was hired for the Giants job.
"It was a range of emotions. Humiliation, disbelief, anger. I've worked so hard to get to where I am in football to become a head coach. Put 18 years in this league. To go on what felt like a sham interview, I was hurt," Flores told CBS Mornings.
There are currently three head coaches of color, including one Black man, out of 32 coaching positions in the NFL. That is down from eight in 2018. About 70% of players in the league are Black.
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 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 asked on CBS Mornings why he filed the lawsuit, thus risking his future in football.
"This is bigger than coaching. This is much bigger than coaching," Flores said. "I absolutely want to coach in this league. But I'm not the only story here. There are people who have come before me. … It's hard to speak out. You're making some sacrifices. But this is again, this is bigger than football. This is bigger than coaching."
Legal analyst Michael McCann said the lawsuit is "unprecedented."
"We have never seen a lawsuit ever like this, an active coach suing over alleged discrimination, petitioning for it to become a class action," McCann said.
McCann said the Belichick texts are a critical part of the lawsuit.
"That's relevant to Flores' argument that it was a sham interview. The counter argument, because there is going to be a pushback, is that what Belichick says isn't what the Giants are doing necessarily. Belichick is employed by another team, he's not a decision-maker in the Giants organization," McCann said. "There's not going to be a smooth resolution in this lawsuit. It could last quite a while depending how the early proceedings go."
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