The definition of opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. One would think that a person groomed in an organization with multiple Super Bowls where their expertise was essential to those wins; would be allowed to build up a team that could go all the way. Throughout all professional sports organizations, what has been shown is that as a black coach, you are not afforded those same opportunities as your white counterparts. No matter the amount of expertise compromise or passion for the game, black coaches have the shortest career hours to prove their worth.
Brian Flores is another example of a black head coach fired just as the momentum of progress was building with the Miami Dolphins organization. During his tenure, he would lead the Dolphins to consecutive winning seasons in 2020 and 2021, the franchise’s first in almost twenty years. Flores has spent the last three seasons attempting to redeem the once highly respected Dolphins, given a lackluster roster. Rumored to have had differences of opinions with management over potential players and personnel changes, Miami fired Flores despite having two years left in his contract. On February 1, 2022, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and Dolphins organizations, alleging racial discrimination. As the saying goes, you must understand the history to know how we got here.
Brian Flores began his career as a scouting assistant for the New England Patriots before advancing to Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in 2008. It is safe to say that Flores flourished in a championship environment as he moved up the Patriot echelon replacing long-time assistant coach Matt Patricia as the defensive play-caller without being named the defensive coordinator. The Patriots would win three super bowls, including the memorable Super Bowl LII against the Atlanta Falcons, where the Patriots were down 28-3 but rallied to a 34-28 victory. Flores’ last run with New England came in Super Bowl LIII; the Patriots would defeat the Los Angeles Rams, having the lowest-scoring game in NFL history a testament to the defensive strategies.
Brian would take his defensive expertise to Miami as the head coach where he could get the opportunity to captivate a new era of Dolphin championships, so he thought. Now here is where the rubber meets the road. In Miami, Flores walked into a ready-made roster where he had to make the best of what he had. Outside looking in based upon reporting, the Dolphins management would not allow Flores to map out a future without their vision in place. With an internal war brewing, Miami decided to part ways leaving Flores on the outs.
Flores’ class action lawsuit expresses several instances where organizations within the NFL failed to truly honor the Rooney Rule in a way that gives everyone a fair opportunity. Risking all possibilities of future employment as a head coach, Flores has taken a stance that the current treatment of minority coaches is disrespectful and unacceptable. If the NFL’s objective is to be transparent and provide real opportunities to all, then substantive changes must be made in the hiring processes. As a man, you have one of two choices lay down and take it or stand up for change. History has shown that those who risk their ambitions to better the collective cement a lasting legacy. Brian Flores’ lawsuit moves the needle of progress for all future minority coaches.