Opinion: The glaring issue Brian Flores revealed about the NFL

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Wilfredo Lee

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talks to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross during practice before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Florida. Flores sued the NFL and three of its teams Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores was fired in January despite going 10-6 in 2020 and winning eight of the last nine games of the 2021 season after starting out 1-7. 

Flores recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Dolphins for racial discrimination. This was spurred after Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sent Flores a text congratulating him on getting a job with the Giants before he even interviewed for it.

Belichick, however, accidentally texted the wrong Brian. 

Brian Daboll, the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator, was the coach actually being hired. It seemed the Giants picked their coach before even interviewing Flores. 

Flores is also suing the Broncos alleging that they were not serious when interviewing him as they showed up late and disheveled to the interview. Denver would also later go on to hire a white head coach.

Flores also alleges that the Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, pressured him to lose games on purpose in order for the team to have a better draft pick, even offering him extra money.

All of this makes one thing clear about the NFL: it has some serious changes to make to fix what is obviously a broken and likely racist system. 

I grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I have been since I was 7 years old. 

My first year watching the Steelers was also Mike Tomlin’s first year as head coach. He was the first African-American head coach in franchise history, and he is still in that position today.

But Tomlin is in another interesting position. He is the only African-American head coach in the entire NFL. 

As of 2020 57.5 percent of NFL players identify as Black or African-American,  according to the Washington Post. But despite this fact, there is only one in the entire league. That alone presents a big problem.

With a league where a majority of players are Black, there should be more Black head coaches. These players obviously know how to play the sport, they know the playbook and the best decisions to make in order to help a team win. So how do more of them not become a head coach down the road?

Owners play a big part in the hiring process of a head coach, and much like many corporations, the top is filled with older, white men. Shahid Kahn, a Pakistani-American and the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is the only non-white majority owner in the league. 

Now the NFL tried to make amends to ensure more Black coaches get more opportunities. They implemented a policy in 2003 that requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching positions. In theory that would mean teams would interview more people of color and, in turn, hire more of them.

Instead you have teams bringing in Black and other minority coaches for interviews just to fulfill the policy. They could care less about how the interview goes or what the coach has to say as they already have a white candidate in mind for the job. This forces these coaches to go through sham interviews that they had no way of winning. 

That was clearly the case with the Giants. They knew Daboll was their guy, but had to follow the rule and interview Flores anyways. The entire process is so disrespectful to minority coaches in the NFL. They are now simply token characters in the hiring process. Many of them will never know if a team is taking them seriously or just need a Black guy to fulfill a role.

Flores’ lawsuit may bring unprecedented changes to how the NFL treats minority coaches. It may upend how these owners operate, and how white the higher parts of the organization make despite such a good chunk of the players being Black. 

It’s been known for some time that something wasn’t quite right with how the NFL treated these Black coaches, but Brian Flores may have just kickstarted a change that will forever help anybody involved in the NFL who is a person of color. 

Jimmy Oswald is a sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]