Probably going to have to make a bunch of comics on this as the lawsuit develops. Especially if we get lucky enough to reach discovery and things don’t quietly get settled after a certain point, which is sadly what usually happens. I hope Flores is out for blood because this is a reckoning the NFL needs and we all know they would be happy to sweep it under the rug and have us all talk about something else. The NFL only “fixes” something when the problem has exploded in their faces. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t even have the pathetic endzone messages without the BLM movement spiking in 2020 directly shining more light on how they handled Kaepernick, who was already a huge black eye to anyone who cared.

So Brian Flores was very surprisingly fired by the Dolphins in a move I think shocked everyone. The Dolphins weren’t perfect, but they seemed like they were building something and even though I had questions about what Flores was doing down there, it felt like everyone felt he was a good coach and not on the hot seat. Then a bit more detail leaks and it feels like Flores was fired because he wasn’t getting along with the management. His lawsuit shines some light as to how that friction seemed to arise. Was Stephen Ross really offering him money to tank? That’s beyond illegal and morally dubious with sports betting becoming more accepted. The whole pay-to-lose thing is a can of worms on its own I can’t touch on here.

Then Flores interviews with the Giants, gets passed over for Daboll, and soon after files the lawsuit. In the lawsuit he uses text messages from Bill Belichick apparently not knowing how to use a phone and texting the wrong Brian congratulations before Flores even got interviewed. Big yikes. He also uses a prior experience in Denver where he felt disrespected by the team during the interview, feeling as if they did not treat him seriously and used him as a Rooney Rule obligation.

The Rooney Rule, if you remain somehow unfamiliar, is that every team must interview a minority (doesn’t have to be black, just not white) candidate for coaching positions. It started as a way to try and boost minority opportunity but now has been disgraced to the point of being a joke. People have mocked the “Rooney Rule Interview” for at least a decade that I can remember. Every year you see teams interview a guy and everyone can tell they did it to meet the obligation. It actually seemed to work for a little while. There were a fair number of black coaches through the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. They’ve completely fallen out of favor in recent years and the newest trend is 35-year-old white guys who worked for Sean McVay.

Flores is right to call out the league. This is a problem. The NFL is a majority black space yet the highest-ranking staff remains overwhelmingly white. Black coaches tend to get shorter leashes (Steve Wilks) and sometimes feel like they get hired simply to bridge the gap during rebuild years (David Culley). The biggest problem is that it’s all so hard to definitively prove. That’s what sucks about systemic racism. Once you understand it, it is remarkably easy to spot, but so difficult to concretely prove because it can always be explained away with broad excuses even as looking at the big picture makes it obvious a problem exists. People, and the law in general, still see racism on an individual persecution level. We can look at the Giants this hiring cycle specifically as a great example.

The Giants hired the Bills Joe Schoen to be the new GM. Daboll was already a hot HC candidate. When the Giants hired a Bills guy to be the new GM, it felt like Daboll was a natural choice. Flores was also interviewed but he was likely on the outside looking in and would need to blow the team away. I’m pretty sure Schoen just wanted to work with a guy he already had a great relationship with. I don’t think how the Giants treated Flores was intentionally malicious, intentionally racist. It wasn’t individual persecution against Flores. The problem is that the position Flores was in is the position so many minority coaches find themselves in. They are always on the outside looking in. They never seem to be the hot guy. They never seem to have the “connection” needed to break through. Hell, Flores actually kinda did have a connection, the Bill Belichick one, and he was still stuck outside the window, put in a position where the scales were tipped against him.

But this is so hard to prove unless you luck into a Jon Gruden private email. There were 9 HC openings this offseason. 2 were filled by minority coaches, and both felt a bit sketchy. For one, the Dolphins (Mike McDaniel) had an opening only because the Dolphins stupidly fired Flores in the first place. The Texans are a trash fire who used David Culley (black) to steer the disaster for a horrible season. Even Culley knew his time was a joke and he openly admitted taking the job because he knew he wouldn’t get another chance. The Texans spent months openly flirting with JOSH MCCOWN (white, loves Jesus, has absolutely zero coaching experience) only to seemingly have waited too long to just hire the guy and thanks to the Flores lawsuit apparently swept in to use Lovie Smith as yet a second stopgap. It feels like the Texans wanted to hire McCown but were too shy because they knew they’d look stupid, and then the Flores news put them in a bind, leaving Flores and McCown the two choices. They couldn’t pick the white guy with no credentials, but they also couldn’t hire the guy currently suing the NFL, so they grabbed Lovie out of the blue. The Texans are a joke.

The other hires? If you look at them individually, you get a similar situation as the Giants. Easily explained away as the guy the team felt best suited for the gig. The Vikings hired Kevin O’Connell, another McVay pupil, over Patrick Graham, a man with significantly more experience. But they also hired a black GM, so was it intentionally racist? Probably not. The Saints? They promoted Dennis Allen, who has already stepped in admirably for Payton. Makes sense. The Jags and Pederson? They might have hired Leftwich (black) but they refused to fire Trent “wormtongue” Baalke and Leftwich pulled out. Pederson isn’t bad for a backup plan. The Broncos and Hackett? They clearly are courting Rodgers and need an offensive mind after years of failures on that side. Chicago and Eberflus? I admit that one has me stumped I don’t know what the Bears are doing.

The problem is not any of those hires individually and none of them were likely racially motivated in a purposeful persecution way. The problem is it’s another year where basically everyone who got hired was white and the 2 minority hires are strange. Why do these young white guys like Kevin O’Connell or Mike McDaniel rise through the ranks so fast, yet people like Patrick Graham, Leftwich, and Eric Bieniemy have success for years and yet get every excuse thrown at them when their name comes up? Why was Jim Caldwell fired and still unemployed? Why isn’t Todd Bowles getting any love? Why is Mike Tomlin the 8th highest-paid coach when he’s literally never had a losing season and actually got passed over by the same stupid Dolphins for being “too hip hop” (well I guess some cases are obviously individual racism)? Why do Sean McVay assistants who do not call plays (O’Connell) or even coordinate the offense (Zach Taylor) get hired so easily but the one black guy he hired (Morris) not get any real buzz? Hell, why does Sean McVay hire so many white people to start? It’s all connections all the way down and minority coaches are always stuck trying to find a way in, and even when they do, face difficulties moving forward. Sure, Raheem Morris wasn’t a very good coach in Tampa, but Josh McDaniels was an absolute disaster and he became a hot coaching commodity after a few years again anyway, and then he ruined his reputation screwing the Colts, and STILL got a third chance with the Raiders. Yes, Eric Bieniemy has a couple problematic incidents in his past, but I don’t think most fans even know about those, they’d rather just give Andy Reid all the credit, and since when has the NFL ever cared about problematic incidents? Matt Patricia possibly raped someone, remember that? Nobody even bothered to look into his past until after he got the job.

It’s all right there, blatantly staring at us in the face. It’s a very visible problem to anyone who isn’t willingly burying their heads in the sand, determined to not look at the thing that might make them feel uncomfortable. I don’t know if Flores will have enough hard evidence to get anything fixed. I don’t know how far this can go. The cynic in me doesn’t have a lot of hope. But the NFL needs a good punch to the nuts here, and I hope Flores is the guy to do it. He may have completely ruined his future as a coach by daring to be the guy who openly fought the power, and I wish him absolute success.