Court Battles

Miami Dolphins owner denies allegations in Brian Flores lawsuit

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Wednesday denied allegations contained in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, with the team owner calling the claims “false, malicious and defamatory.” 

Ross’s response comes a day after Flores, who is Black, sued the NFL, the Dolphins and several other teams for engaging in what the lawsuit depicted as a pattern of racially discriminatory hiring practices.

Among the explosive claims in Flores’s suit is an allegation that Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each game he intentionally lost, a practice known as “tanking” to improve a team’s draft position.

Flores also claimed Ross pressured him into recruiting a prominent quarterback in violation of league rules and that Flores was ostracized and ultimately fired for his refusal to engage in the team owner’s plan. He also alleges that his reputation was smeared as a result.

In a statement denying the allegations, Ross described himself as “a man of honor and integrity” and said he would welcome an investigation by the NFL.

“I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known,” Ross said in a statement. “His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.”

The NFL and the other teams named as defendants in Flores’s suit — the New York Giants and Denver Broncos — have also denied the allegations of race discrimination.

“Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time,” the NFL said in a statement. “We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.” 

Flores’s lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court, comes just weeks after he was fired by the Dolphins. He claims he was later subjected to what he described as a “sham interview” with the New York Giants, conducted only to pay lip service to the league’s racial diversity guidelines.  

The ex-coach claimed that teams have conducted such interviews to seem compliant with the NFL’s “Rooney rule,” which requires teams to interview at least one Black candidate for coaching staff vacancies.

Amid his interview process with the Giants, Flores claims he was inadvertently tipped off by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick that another applicant — Brian Daboll, who is white — had already been unofficially chosen for the job.

Yet Flores was still invited to participate in a dinner and extensive interview for the position — gestures he claims were done “for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Flores claimed he was subjected to a similar “sham interview” with members of the Denver Broncos management team in 2019. The team denies those allegations and defended its hiring process as “thorough and fair,” calling Flores’s claims “baseless and disparaging.”

Tags Brian Flores Racial discrimination Rooney Rule Stephen Ross

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