Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is advocating for more inclusive workplace practices within the NFL. Flores is currently suing the National Football League and three of its teams on allegations of racist hiring practices and wrongful termination. 

In mid January, Flores was fired by the Dolphins after becoming the first head coach in 18 years to capture two winning seasons in a row for the organization. His firing was a shock to the whole NFL community who had been thoroughly impressed by Flores’ ability to turn around a struggling team. He posted a 3-1 record against their rivals, the New England Patriots, which impressed many Dolphin fans. Needless to say, there were many questions surrounding the choice of a sudden coaching change. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross stated that the decision to release Flores was based on issues with collaboration between ownership and coaching. Flores, however, denied these claims and stated that Ross wanted the team to tank the 2019 season in order to receive the number one pick. Flores alleges that Ross offered him $100,000 per loss, but Flores denied the money. This upset Ross and ultimately led him to releasing Flores of his coaching duties. 

Following the firing of Flores, many analysts assumed that he would be highly sought after by the nine teams in need of a replacement coach. Supposedly, The New York Giants was one of the teams interested in Flores and scheduled a meeting with him to interview for the position. Yet, before Flores could even interview, he received a text message from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulating him on receiving the position. This, of course, was rather odd. It turned out that Belichick had texted the wrong Brian. He thought he was texting Brain Dabul, the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills who was ultimately announced as the new Giants head coach. 

Flores thanked Bill for the text message because it revealed more than just a missed opportunity, it showed him that the Giants were giving him a “sham” interview just to comply with the Rooney rule. The Rooney rule states that every organization must seriously interview at least one person of color for every major position — general manager, coach, and director of football operations. Flores was being used by the Giants and the text messages with Belichick was enough evidence to pursue a lawsuit.

In an interview with ESPN, Flores had one major message to the NFL; “we need change.” Flores has risked his NFL coaching career in order to bring these issues to light. Bill Rhoden, a columnist for ESPN’s The Undefeated, compared Flores to former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick who was black-balled from the NFL after speaking out about systemic racism in the United States. Flores, just like Kapernick, is working for something more than just the game of football. 

NBC News reported that in 2021 71% of NFL players were people of color, yet there have only been 24 black head coaches in the history of the NFL. With the recent hiring of Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith, the new percentage of black head coaches in the NFL is an abysmal 6.3%. The Flores case aside, the numbers don’t lie here. Close to three-quarters of the player population is made up of people of color, but the representation lacks in those who coach them. 

Many former players of Flores have stepped up in support; in a twitter post, Patriots safety Devin McCourty referred to Flores as a “special individual” and commended him for “calling out what we all already know.” Flores has the support of the players, but it will be interesting to see how other management deals with the lawsuit and whether or not they address the obvious issue at hand.