Brian Flores lawsuit brings issue of race among coaching staff to the forefront
Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has filed a lawsuit that alleges racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers in the NFL. Flores’ lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court against the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants,
Beyond the accusations, some believe that Black coaches are held to a different standard.
The NFL has had a rule in place for 20 years that teams must interview minority candidates. But some feel that this is just for show.
“I would never want to be a quota-filler. And I remember having a conversation, ‘Well they want a Black coach,’ but I want to be the qualified coach. I want to be the best candidate,” says state Assemblyman Benji Wimberly.
Wimberly represents Paterson in the state Assembly and has coached for 30 years - twice as a head coach and right now as an assistant at Saint Joe's in Montvale. He says he resisted the head coaching job at Hackensack. But he eventually embraced the idea of being a mentor to the entire community.
“I don’t want to be the Black coach, because at a place like Hackensack I had Black, white, Spanish, Middle Eastern [players],” Wimberly says.
But he says that sometimes Black players relate better to Black leaders.
About 70% of NFL players are Black, but there is only one Black head coach. Overall, there are only three minority head coaches, including Robert Saleh of the New York Jets. He is of Lebanese descent.
Is it tough right now? For sure, but I know the NFL is trying hard,” Saleh says.
He is defending the NFL’s diversity efforts while praising the character and coaching ability of Flores.
But Flores is not backing down.
“It was humiliating, to be quite honest. There was anger,” Flores says.
Flores used Bill Belichick’s texts to accuse the Giants of interviewing him even though they already decided to hire someone else.
“That may be the biggest insult of this entire thing, outside of being asked to tank football games,” says Wimberly.
Wimberly is the president of the recently-started New Jersey Minority Coaches Association. North Jersey is home to a handful of programs widely seen as the state’s best. But none of them have ever had a Black head coach.
He says from high school to the NFL, this is all about the people in charge.