New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may have been eerily omitted from Tom Brady‘s round of thanks and farewell. However, there is one person has Belichick firmly locked in his sights and seeing red—Brian Flores, who was canned as head coach of the Miami Dolphins last month, despite turning the team around.
And thanks to a texting slip-up by the Pats coach, Flores is so confident he can prove the disputed “Rooney Rule” that he’s taking the NFL and three specific teams to court.
Flores, who is Black, alleges he received a congratulatory text from Belichick for successfully becoming the new head coach of the New York Giants. But the problem is that Flores hadn’t met with Big Blue yet for the position – that meeting was two days away, scheduled for January 26.
“Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll. Just making sure,” Flores texted back with confusion. (Brian Daboll is white.)
“Sorry – I f—ed this up,” Belichick. “I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.” (Since having filed the suit against the NFL and the Giants, Flores says he hasn’t heard from Belichick at all.)
“It was a range of emotions,” Flores told CBS Mornings. “Humiliation, disbelief, anger. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am in football to become a head coach. Put 18 years in this league. To go on what felt like a sham interview, I was hurt.” Flores worked for Belichick from 2004 through 2018, before landing his own head coaching position in Miami.
So Flores decided to file a class action lawsuit against the NFL, Big Blue, his former team, and the Denver Broncos (with whom he interviewed as well).
Once news of the suit broke, the Giants promptly came out with a statement and insisted that Flores “was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour” but they found Daboll to be the “most qualified.”
For its part, the league says Flores’ complaints are bogus. “The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” their statement read. “Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”
Belichick’s texts are central to Flores’ case, of course. However, legal sports analyst Michael McCann raises a key counterpoint to Flores’ allegation. “[W]hat Belichick says isn’t what the Giants are doing necessarily. Belichick is employed by another team, he’s not a decision-maker in the Giants organization,” he notes. “There’s not going to be a smooth resolution in this lawsuit. It could last quite a while depending how the early proceedings go.”
Flores put out a statement admitting he may end up blackballed from the NFL forever, but he also believes that his mission is greater than a job. “God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals. In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game I love and has done so much for my family and me,” he said after filing the suit. “My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”