Last Tuesday, attorneys for former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court broadly alleging racism by the NFL and team owners in the hiring process for coaching and front office positions. Some of Flores’ claims certainly have merit. After all, the league has a pretty troubling history with racism. The emails from former Raiders coach Jon Gruden to former Washington Commander’s GM Bruce Allen is just one example noted in the Class Action Complaint. The Rooney Rule, initially intended to improve racial disparities in leadership positions, has not lived up to its expectations. That is evident because Mike Tomlin of the Steelers is currently the only black head coach in the NFL and only a few more are general managers.
Assuming that Flores’ complaint makes it to discovery (barring the success of a possible motion to dismiss), the evidence unveiled against the NFL and team owners may be devastating. In the meantime, the New York Football Giants have been the subject of much discussion after being specifically named in the lawsuit this week. While Brian Flores has several legitimate reasons for suing the NFL, claiming that the Giants ownership and front office discriminated against him in the hiring process is absurd.
Under owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, the New York Giants have long been one of the most highly regarded organizations in the NFL despite a lack of success in recent years. Within the last couple of weeks, they hired Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll from the Buffalo Bills to be their General Manager and Head Coach respectively. However, the process by which the Giants hired Daboll was called into question by Flores who revealed text messages between himself and Bill Belichick pertaining to the Giants head coaching job. Belichick, thinking he was texting Daboll, mistakenly congratulated Flores for being hired by Big Blue three days before Flores interviewed with the team. Even if litigation proceeds in this case, we may never know where Belichick got advanced information, but it is understandable why Flores may have thought the Giants were just interviewing him to fulfill the Rooney Rule.
However, if we actually look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the Giants search for a GM and head coach, it is obvious that the organization conducted a thorough and fair interview process. In terms of the GM position, four of the Giants' nine candidates were black. While all were eminently qualified, they likely went with Joe Schoen because of his involvement in the Bills' flourishing offense with Josh Allen under center. As for the head coach, three of the six candidates Schoen interviewed (including Flores) were black. In both instances, the Giants more than satisfied the Rooney Rule. Why then did the Giants go with Daboll over Flores? Given the state of the organization, it was not because of any unfair discrimination. Rather, it was because the team needed a coach who had demonstrated the ability to develop an offense and a Quarterback. After three years of failing to develop Daniel Jones and the offensive players around him, Brian Daboll was that guy.
There’s no question that Brian Flores has proven himself to be a successful head coach. He certainly deserves a head coaching job in the NFL this year, as does a proven offensive coordinator like Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City. But, Flores was not the right person for the Giants this time around.
I hope that Flores’ concerns with racial discrimination in the NFL are addressed promptly. It takes a lot of guts to do what he did especially considering the position he is in. However, there should be no quarrel with the way the New York Football Giants conducted their hiring process. It was thorough and fair. End of story.
A.J. Lise is a 2L at New York Law School. He is a member of his school’s Dispute Resolution Team and has been a personal injury paralegal since 2018. He can be reached at [email protected] and @aj_lise on Twitter.
 https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/brian-flores-nfl-lawsuit/44f04359fa5bb496/full.pdf  Lewis, Hayden. 2022. Overview of the New York Giants’ 9 general manager candidates. January 15. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://empiresportsmedia.com/new-york-giants/overview-of-new-york-giants-9-general-manager-candidates/.  Brown, Larry. 2022. Timeline of New York Giants head coach interviews and Rooney Rule Requirement. February 1. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://larrybrownsports.com/football/timeline-new-york-giants-head-coach-interviews-rooney-rule-requirement/591390.