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Why are coaches suing the NFL?

Two former coaches have joined former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL for alleged racial discrimination in its hiring practices.

Gidget Alikpala
Two coaches have joined former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL for alleged racial discrimination in its hiring practices.
Getty Images

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and long-time defensive coordinator Ray Horton have joined the lawsuit of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL for alleged racial discrimination in its workplace and hiring practices.

More NFL teams added to lawsuit

Attorneys for Flores added Wilks and Horton to an amended complaint which now also includes the Cardinals, the Houston Texans, and the Tennessee Titans in the list of defendants.

Flores’ original suit was filed against the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants, apart from the NFL. His lawsuit, filed two months ago, highlighted the Giants’ hiring of Brian Daboll as head coach over him. Flores said that the job as New York’s head coach was already promised to Daboll even before he went through his interview.

He later added the Texans to the complaint, claiming that he was taken out of the running by the team for the head coach position after he filed his racism suit against the NFL. The Texans responded by saying that although they respect Flores, they believe that Lovie Smith was the right candidate for the job.

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The case of Ray Horton

The two new plaintiffs also cited cases of alleged racism, with Horton’s case being quite similar to that of Flores. Horton had applied for the job of Titans head coach in 2016, and he cited a podcast interview with Mike Mularkey, who got the the position, where Mularkey said the Titans let him know he was hired before they had gone through the Rooney rule. (The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for any positions that are open.)

In the podcast, Mularkey also said that he felt bad about the “fake process” that team owners went through in the hiring procedure, knowing how hard candidates prepared for these job interviews. Horton was among those interviewees in 2016.

In a statement, Horton said, “I am proud to stand with Coach Flores and Coach Wilks in combatting the systemic discrimination which has plagued the NFL for far too long.”

Wilks: Considered a ‘bridge coach’

Wilks meanwhile said that he was treated as a “bridge coach” when he was hired by the Cardinals as head coach, and was not given a chance to succeed. Wilks was fired after one season with a 3-13 record, and was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury. The complaint said that Wilks would have succeeded as Kingsbury had, if he had been given the same opportunity.

“When Coach Flores filed this action, I knew I owed it to myself, and to all Black NFL coaches and aspiring coaches, to stand with him,” said Wilks in a statement released by his lawyers.

The NFL has no comment on the amended lawsuit at the moment.


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