Two former NFL coaches have joined Brian Flores’s lawsuit against the NFL. Flores filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1 against the NFL, three of its franchises (Giants, Broncos and Dolphins), and 29 “John Doe” teams. The lawsuit accused the league of racial discrimination in its hiring practices. Joining the complaint were the two former coaches — Steve Wilks and Ray Horton — who cited their own experiences in the league.
Wilks was the Cardinals’ head coach during the 2018 season. Wilks claims in the amended lawsuit that the team only hired him as a “bridge coach” and did not have long-term plans to keep him on the team, and said that general manager Steve Keim “made poor personnel decisions.” The amended complaint also asserts that though Keim was charged and pleaded guilty to a DUI—a fireable offense—in 2018, he was allowed to keep his job. Wilks was fired on Dec. 31 2018, and was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury, who had no NFL coaching experience prior to his hiring.
Horton claims the Titans conducted a “sham” interview with him in order to meet the Rooney Rule requirements. In 2016, the then defensive coordinator for Tennessee applied to the team’s head coach opening. Horton, now 61-years-old, had spent over two decades in the league coaching. The Titans ended up hiring Mike Mularkey, who later spoke on the Inside Pro Football podcast and admitted that Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk and her family had told him ahead of the Rooney Rule interviews that he would be hired.
Flores noted in his lawsuit that he participated in two sham interviews with the Giants and the Broncos. Both teams have denied the claims. Flores also claimed in the lawsuit that Miami owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 bonus for each loss during the 2019 season, wanting to secure the league’s worst record so they could have the No. 1 pick in the ’20 draft. Ross has denied these claims.
Flores, Horton and Wilks issued statements on Thursday following the news the two former coaches would be joining the complaint. Said Wilks: “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. This lawsuit has shed further important light on a problem that we all know exists, but that too few are willing to confront. 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, and I look forward to working with Coach Flores and Coach Horton to ensure that the aspiration of racial equality in the NFL becomes a reality.”
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