MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Saying the league is "rife with racism," former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has sued the NFL, the Fins, and two other teams, claiming racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers.
Appearing on CBS Mornings, Flores said he thought long and hard about it before filing the lawsuit.
"I understand the risks. And yes, it was a difficult decision and I went back and forth. Like I said, I love coaching. I do. It's something that I'm passionate about, it brings me joy. And I love helping young people reach their potential and become the best versions of themselves. I'm gifted to do that but this is bigger than that," he said.
Flores said the lawsuit is not just about a problem in the NFL
"We didn't have to file a lawsuit for the world to know that there's a problem from a hiring standpoint in regards to minority coaches in the National Football League. The numbers speak for themselves," he said. "We filed the lawsuit so that we could create some change. And that's important to me. I think we are at a fork in the road. We are either going to keep it the way it is or go in another direction and actually make some real change in where we are actually changing the hearts and minds of those who make decisions to hire head coaches, executives, etc."
At the center of the lawsuit is a text message from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
The lawsuit claims Belichick texted Flores instead of Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for landing the New York Giants' head coaching job.
"So last week, I interviewed for the Giants position. I was set to interview on Thursday, the Monday prior. Before it before I interviewed, I received a text message from Bill Belichick saying congratulations on the giant space, essentially a congratulations on the Giants job. There was a little bit of back and forth and some confusion. (At one point) I just asked him, is he talking to the right, Brian? And as you've seen through the text messages, he was actually thought he was texting Brian Daboll," said Flores.
He was asked how he felt at that point knowing that the decision had already been made.
"It was a range of emotions. Humiliation, disbelief, anger. I've worked so hard to get to where I am, from football to become a head coach for 18 years in this league, and it was to, to go on, or was going to be a what felt like or what was a sham interview I was, I was hurt," said Flores.
He was then asked why he went for the interview.
"I think, there's still hope. And maybe it's call it called the audacity of hope. And I was, I have a belief that, you know, there's good in people, I just do," said Flores.
WATCH: Brian Flores Discuss Allegations Made In Lawsuit Against The NFL On CBS Mornings
Flores was then asked if he felt like this was just to comply with the Rooney Rule that requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
According to the lawsuit, this apparently wasn't the first time that Flores was used to comply with the Rooney Rule.
"Indeed, in 2019 Mr. Flores was scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos' then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had 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. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos," the lawsuit states.
He said yes and he's felt discrimination before.
"The rule of Rooney Rule is intended to, you know, give minorities an opportunity to sit down in front of ownership. But I think what it's turned into is an instance where guys are just checking the box. And that's been the case. I've been on some interviews in the past that I've had that feeling, there's always no way to, to know for sure. But you know, I know, I know, I know, I'm not alone there," said Flores.
Today, there are three minority head coaches, including one Black man, out of 32 in the league. That's down from eight in 2018. About 70% of players in the NFL are Black.
Flores also addressed an explosive claim that during the 2019 season, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for every loss so the team could have a better draft pick.
"This game has done a lot for me. I grew up not far from here in the projects in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Didn't grow up with a lot, this game, you know, changed my life. So to attack the integrity of the game, that's what I felt was happening in that instance and I wouldn't stand for it," he said.
Flores was also asked if he thought this hurt his career.
"I think I think it hurt my standing with this within the organization, and ultimately was the reason why I was let go," he said.
A year later, the lawsuit claims, Ross tried ambushing Flores into meeting the "prominent quarterback," but Flores left before such a gathering took place.
"From that point forward, Mr. Flores was ostracized and ultimately he was fired. He was subsequently defamed throughout the media and the League as he was labeled by the Dolphins brass as someone who was difficult to work with. This is reflective of an all too familiar "angry black man" stigma that is often cast upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes," the lawsuit states.
WATCH: Former Miami Dolphins Applauds Brian Flores For Stepping Out On A Limb
When asked if he felt the lawsuit would hurt his career, Flores said it was the right thing to do, adding he's speaking up for decades of this type of behavior going on.
"There are people who have come before me and I know there are others who have similar stories and it's hard to speak out. It is, you know, you're making some sacrifices, but this is again, this is bigger than football. This is bigger than coaching."
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