By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- For a very long time, Black coaches in the NFL felt they were not given a fair chance to get certain jobs, and they believed their interviews for those jobs only came about as a requirement to satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule. Yet without any hard evidence, those feelings were unsubstantiated.
That seemingly changed when Brian Flores received what he believed to have been confirmation that the Giants had already decided to hire Brain Daboll as their next head coach, days before Flores had even gone on his own interview with the Giants. That information came in the form of a text message sent by Bill Belichick, who -- based on Flores' suspicions -- texted the wrong "Brian" to congratulate him on getting the job.
That text exchange, really, is the crux of Flores' lawsuit against the Giants and the NFL. But Giants owner John Mara says it's all baseless. Granted, Giants owner John Mara also hasn't done the legwork to confirm that it's baseless. Nevertheless, he avers the claim to be false.
"The allegations are false," Mara said at the NFL's annual meetings, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
Mara added that Belichick -- despite his rich history with the Giants -- would not have had communications from decision-makers within the Giants' organization.
"I haven't spoken or communicated with Bill since we played them in the preseason last summer, and to my knowledge, nobody in our organization communicated with him," Mara said.
The Giants' owner was asked a pointed follow-up, a question that needed to be asked of someone expressing such confidence in a statement. That question: Have you reached out to Belichick to confirm that he had not spoken to anybody within the Giants organization about the decision to hire Brian Daboll as head coach.
"No," Mara answered. "Why should I?"
One might argue that actually discovering the truth might be a critical component of knowing the truth. Then, one might make the case that knowing the truth makes it easier to speak with full certainty about that truth. But that's just one thought.
The reality is that Bill Belichick does speak to members of the Giants organization regarding head coaching hires. We know that -- as a fact -- because Belichick's endorsement of Joe Judge was a major reason why the coach was hired to lead New York's franchise in 2020, despite not having the typical amount of experience found in a top head coaching candidate.
Ian Rapoport reported after the Judge hiring that Belichick had placed a phone call "to the Giants," giving a big endorsement to Judge.
And here's something even better: the New York Post's Ian O'Connor reported that John Mara directly asked Bill Belichick about Joe Judge.
Additionally -- additionally! -- Tom Rock of Newsday reported that the Giants sought out Bill Belichick during their head coaching search in 2020, asking for his thoughts on Joe Judge.
Furthermore -- furthermore! -- the New York Post's Paul Schwartz reported that Belichick played "a large role" in the Giants' decision to hire Joe Judge.
"The Giants spoke with Belichick before making this choice and the feedback they got was glowingly positive," Schwartz wrote.
So based on the history from just two years ago, it does seem clear that the Giants not only have spoken to Belichick about their head coach hiring process but have also put a lot of stock into what he has said.
Now, one could make the case that considering how poorly Judge performed in his two years in New York, Belichick's advice was not sought out quite as diligently this time around.
However, Daboll is a former assistant of Belichick's, having twice worked on the Patriots' staff, first from 2000-06, then again from 2013-16. Belichick knew Daboll as a young 25-year-old assistant coach and as an older, more experienced coach in his late 30s. He also knew him quite well from an opposing standpoint, having coached against Daboll's Buffalo offense over the past four years.
It does stand to reason that if the Giants tried to gain intel from Belichick on Judge two years ago, they'd likely be interested in the opinions of one of the greatest coaches of all time regarding Daboll.
Likewise, they'd probably like to pick Belichick's brain about Flores, who spent 11 seasons working under Belichick and ran the defense as the de factor coordinator for a Super Bowl-winning season.
Alas, according to John Mara, there's been no communication between the Giants and Belichick. He can't necessarily prove that, and no, he hasn't necessarily checked to see if it's true. But it didn't happen. Per John Mara. Got it.
(Belichick took a wiser path on Monday morning by declining comment on any questions about the Flores lawsuit.)
Hopefully in time, the truth -- the verifiable, recorded truth, whatever it may be -- comes to light. For now, the owner's words certainly stretch the bounds of credulity.
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