Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL just picked up even more steam thanks to recent developments.
ESPN reports lawyers representing Flores in a suit against the NFL for racial discrimination during its hiring practices have added two more names to the complaint. Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and Ray Horton, an NFL assistant since 1994 who interviewed for the Tennessee Titans head coaching job in 2016, exposing alleged racist shady practices. Like Flores, Wilks and Horton both have damning allegations against the two teams they were formally employed with, the Titans and Arizona Cardinals.
Horton, 61, has a case thanks to comments made by former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey who got the job ahead of Horton, admitted during a 2020 interview on a podcast that the Titans circumvented the Rooney Rule to hire him. Mularkey’s statement is quoted in the lawsuit and is being used in Horton’s argument calling the Titan’s interviewing of minority candidates a “sham” and a “fake hiring process.”
Per The Daily News:
The Titans “[t]old me I was going to be the head coach in 2016, before they went through the Rooney Rule,” the lawsuit quotes Mularkey in the podcast. “And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in 2016, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing, knowing a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to get that job.
And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me that I have a job already,” Mularkey continued. “I regret it, [be]cause I pride myself and my kids first to do the right thing, and I always said that to the players. And here I am, the head guy not doing it, and I regretted it since then. It was the wrong thing to do. I am sorry I did that, but it was not the way to do that. Should have been interviewed like everybody else and got hired [be]cause of the interview not early on.
Horton spoke about joining the lawsuit in a statement released through Wigdor LLP law firm, “proud to stand with Coach Flores and Coach Wilks in combatting the systemic discrimination which has plagued the NFL for far too long.”
“When I learned from Coach Mularkey’s statements that my head coach interview with the Titans was a sham, I was devastated and humiliated,” Horton said. “By joining this case, I am hoping to turn that experience into a positive and make lasting change and create true equal opportunity in the future.”
Wilks, 52, was sacked by the Arizona Cardinals after one season in 2018 claims the team hired him as a “bridge coach” and was never given a fair chance to succeed. The amended complaint mentions Cardinals GM Steve Keim, a white man, who was able to fail up and was blessed with a contract extension even after some “poor personnel decisions” and a DUI conviction.
It also noted in the complaint that Wilks was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury, who had no prior coaching experience in the NFL. The complaint alleges Keim sabotaged Wilks’ tenure by ignoring his advice urging him to trade up in the 2018 NFL Draft to get Josh Allen, who has helped make the Buffalo Bills a pretty good team again. Keim instead traded up to draft Josh Rosen, and the move is considered “one of the great draft gaffes of all time,” the complaint states.
Wilks was eventually let go by the team, and Keim stayed onboard and would draft Kyler Murray with the no.1 overall pick.
“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,” Wilks stated. “Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same ability to become employed, and remain employed, as white coaches and candidates. That is not currently the case.”
“I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of support in connection with my claims against the NFL and applaud Steve Wilks and Ray Horton for standing up against systemic race discrimination,” Brian Flores said in a statement. “Their claims are the unfortunate reality of the problems facing Black coaches in the NFL, which our collective hope, in this case, is to end once and for all.”
With the addition of Wilks and Horton’s claims to Flores’ lawsuit, the NFL, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Cardinals, and Titans are all looking very suspect.
We will continue to keep our eyes on this situation.
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