Brian Flores’ lawsuit shows it’s a Catch-22 to be a black head coach in the NFL


Brian Flores

Brian Flores
Photo: Getty Images

Racial Discrimination by Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL has several elements. On several levels, Flores claims, and claims to have receipts for, behavior in the competition that has long been suspected, but it would be damning if it were true – especially to the extent that Flores claims.

Each claim is a league bomb in itself, and when you put them together you can really see how insidious and ingrained the institutional racism is.

Black coaching candidates being interviewed only to comply with the Rooney rule is not a stunner because we know the racism run through the NFL. But it’s overwhelming that word could reach Bill Belichick that Brian Daboll would become the Giants’ coach, before Flores was even allowed to have that fake interview.

Likewise, we’ve known for years that teams fuel up for concept position. It’s been ten years since “Suck for Luck” submarine Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis, and the tank battle between Jaguars and Jets over Trevor Lawrence is still fresh in my mind. It’s quite another thing to have Flores claim that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss in the quest for a number 1 choice.

Caldwell was a rarity among black coaches because he got a second job, not that it did him any good. A 36-28 record may not seem like much, but Caldwell had the highest win rate of any Lions coach in the Super Bowl era and was still clinched after a 9-7 season. Detroit is 17-46-2 with four last places since he let him go.

Flores is well aware of that, as is his own 24-25 record over three seasons with Miami. He also knows that he has passed this coaching cycle for Matt Eberflus, Nathaniel Hackett and Daboll – three white men with no head coaching experience. If Caldwell can’t get another job with his resume, how can Flores ever get one?

That’s where the two parts of Flores’ lawsuit come together. It’s hard enough for a black man to get a job coaching an NFL team, and when he does, he’s told by the owner to go out and lose. He is then fired after consecutive seasons of winning records, but he is still below .500 in total because of that first year.

Not only are Flores’ future job prospects messed up, but now the Dolphins are free to go back to hiring white coaches. After all, they can’t possibly be racist, they just had a black coach. Same with the Browns and Hue Jackson. And hey, how racist can that be the Texans are when they let Crennel take the reins as interim coach after Bill O’Brien was fired in 2020, then hired David Culley as their head coach? Cal McNair Can’t Be Racist, He Has A Black Boyfriend And Painted “END RACISM” In The End Zone, Right?

This is the extra layer that keeps the foundation of structural racism strong. It’s not just denying black candidates opportunities, it’s putting black coaches in positions where they’re less likely to succeed — and even when they do, they dump them like Caldwell and Flores after multiple winning seasons, just when it’s plausible. is to want the next guy to get this team over the top, or however they want to put it before winning six games the following year with a generic white guy.

Before moving forward with his lawsuit, Flores had to think about the effect it could have on his future job prospects, just as a rational thing to think about. It’s possible he concluded that it was worth the risk. It’s likely that it wasn’t a risk at all, because he already knew he wouldn’t get another chance in this league – and that’s why it’s worth suing, not for his own future, but for all black coaches who have not yet been denied their fair chance.

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