Brian Flores was never the only one. Now, it’s undeniable.
Sh*t hit the fan on Thursday when Flores’ lawyers amended his racial discrimination suit against the NFL when new information was presented and two more coaches joined.
Flores’ camp is alleging that the filing of his lawsuit led to the Houston Texans “retaliating” by removing him from their shortlist, ultimately leading to them hiring Lovie Smith (a Black man) since their other finalist (Josh McCown) was a white man who has only coached high school. This makes sense given that it was believed that McCown, who management apparently always wanted but couldn’t have given the optics. All this ultimately lead to an ownership with a racist past, and present, hiring a Black coach out of nowhere as a way to say, “See, we do give the Blacks a chance!”
Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks joined the lawsuit because he feels his race is why he was fired after one season, as the team decided to hire a white coach (Kliff Kingsbury) to replace him, giving him all the opportunities to fail and succeed that Wilks was never afforded. And Ray Horton, a longtime assistant, has implicated the Tennessee Titans as being a franchise that brought him in for a sham interview just to fulfill the Rooney Rule.
“I’ve always prided myself on doing the right thing in this business and I can’t say that’s true about everybody in this business,” Former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey revealed on a podcast in 2020. During the discussion, Mularkey reveals that he was told he had the job in Tennessee before two minority candidates were even interviewed, which is a carbon copy of what Flores is alleging happened with him and the Giants.
“It’s a very cutthroat business and a lot of guys will tell you that. ... I allowed myself at one point when I was in Tennessee to get caught up in something I regret it and I still regret it. But the ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule. And so, I sat there knowing I was the head coach in ‘16 as they went through this fake hiring process. Knowing a lot of the coaches they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance of getting that job. Actually, the GM, Jon Robinson, he was in on the interview with me. He had no idea why he was interviewing me — that I had the job already. I regret. I’m sorry I did that. It was not the way to go about it.”
The smoking gun is on fire.
If you’re still reading at this point, then you’re aware of what’s already happened and what was revealed on Thursday — so I won’t rehash it.
What I want to focus on is what happens next, as this moment feels like the NFL only has one choice, which is to immediately settle this case as they did with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid — which saved the league from having their secrets exposed. While it may feel like it was a lot longer since it happened, it was only in February when Flores made the TV rounds after the text messages from Bill Belichick were made public. And within that short time frame, Wilks and Horton have joined the lawsuit adding more credible allegations about just how corrupt the owners in this league are.
And if you think these three men have been done wrong, just wait till more of them decide to throw their hands up and say “f*ck it” and start telling their stories.
The NFL and Loretta Lynch are way too smart to let any of this play out in open court where there will be witnesses, testimonies, despostions and a 24-hour daily news cycle. At some point, you can bet that the league will throw a boatload of money at these men to make this go away, come up with more mandates that “reinvest in diversity,” followed by a press conference in which Roger Goodell will do what he does best — lie to our faces.
But, what if the owners dug in and said, “f*ck it. Let’s take this sh*t to trial!”
Can you imagine the things that would be presented in discovery? Or, how wonderful it would be to watch as Goodell and these owners are called to the stand to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The potential perjury charges would give Court TV its best ratings since the O.J. trial.
The most infuriating thing about racism is that doubters will remain in denial if tangible proof or quantifiable figures aren’t provided as evidence, as if hatred and bigotry can be explained via PowerPoint. The NFL thought that they could get away with blackballing a couple of players for kneeling. They’ve now realized that trying to do it to a generation of Black coaches is a different monster. And while this case probably won’t see the light of a courtroom, it shouldn’t be forgotten that millions are being spent on lawyer fees by the NFL and these owners all because they refused to hire Black coaches that were often overqualified for the jobs they were applying for.
Diversity is good for business. Racism is expensive.