Brian Flores lawsuit is strengthened by two more former Black coaches

by Ezekiel J. Walker
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Brian Flores filed his lawsuit against the NFL on Feb. 1 and over two months later, he’s finally got support from former Black coaches who are alleging hiring discrimination themselves.

Per ESPN, Steve Wilks, former Arizona Cardinals head coach for a single season in 2018, and Ray Horton, an NFL assistant since 1994 who interviewed for the Tennessee Titans head-coaching job in 2016, are now a part of Flores’ lawsuit.

Flores’ attorneys also allege in the amended complaint that the Texans “retaliated” against Flores by removing him from consideration for their 2022 head-coaching vacancy “due to his decision to file this action and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.”

Brian Flores is no longer a man on an island.

The entire suit is filed against the league, the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, N.Y. Giants, Houston Texans, the Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, plus 26 other “John Doe” NFL teams. The Titans, Cardinals, and Texans were added to the suit as part of the amendment as well.

Lawyers say that Wilks was discriminated against as a “bridge coach” who was “not given any meaningful chance to succeed.” Wilks was 3-13 in one season with Arizona before being fired and replaced by White head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Black coaches report being put in position to fail.

Black coaches are often given the worst of NFL teams to coach.

Likewise Lovie Smith (chosen over Brian Flores), the new Black head coach of the racist and very racist Houston Texans organization, isn’t expected to win this year due to a glaring absence of roster talent along with organizational dysfunction of epic proportions.

Lawyers wrote that while Kingsbury has been successful, “Mr. Wilks, given the same opportunity afforded to Mr. Kingsbury, surely would have succeeded as well.”

In 2018 Kliff Kingsbury, like so many mediocre Whites, failed upward to the Arizona Cardinals after 6 years of college coaching and a lousy 35-40 record to show for it.

Steve Wilks ran so Kliff Kingsbury could fly. The only problem is Steve Wilks didn’t want to run – he wanted to coach. And that’s why he’s joined Brian Flores.

The Cardinals responded in a statement that “the decisions we made after the 2018 season were very difficult ones. But as we said at the time, they were entirely driven by what was in the best interests of our organization and necessary for team improvement. We are confident that the facts reflect that and demonstrate that these allegations are untrue.”

Steve Wilks and Ray Horton may inspire others to come forward.

Ray Horton was defensive coordinator for the Titans in 2014-15 and interviewed for the team’s head-coaching job. Lawyers said he was given a “completely sham interview done only to comply with the Rooney Rule and to demonstrate an appearance of equal opportunity and a false willingness to consider a minority candidate for the position.”

The Titans hired Mike Mularkey, who is White, for the job, and Horton left to be the defensive coordinator for the historically putrid Cleveland Browns franchise. Much like Brian Flores and most Black NFL coaches, Horton was assigned to the defense, historically thought of as less skilled and mentally challenging than the offense.

According to ESPN, Mularkey, who had been the team’s interim head coach for the final nine games of the 2015 season, said in a 2020 podcast that the Titans’ owners told him he was going to get the job before they’d completed the interview process, including interviewing two minority candidates.

This lawsuit is bigger than them.

Wilks states, “This lawsuit has shed further important light on a problem that we all know exists, but that too few are willing to confront. Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same ability to become employed, and remain employed, as White coaches and candidates. That is not currently the case, and I look forward to working with Coach Flores and Coach Horton to ensure that the aspiration of racial equality in the NFL becomes a reality.”

The initial lawsuit filed by Flores drew applause and criticism, however, with more names and stories added, the NFL will have to alter its strategy to address the potential blitz of new allegations headed its way.

1 comment

NFL hopes to arbitrate Brian Flores lawsuit behind closed doors May 3, 2022 - 11:27 am

[…] the lawsuit on Feb. 1, two other Black coaches have also joined the lawsuit with their stories of league discrimination as […]

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