Brian Flores can pursue NFL racism claims in court: Judge

Brian Flores will get his day in court.

The ex-Dolphins head coach who sued the NFL and several teams a year ago, saying it is “rife with racism,” can pursue his claims against the NFL, Broncos, Texans and Giants in court, Judge Valerie Caproni ruled on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Flores brought the lawsuit after he was fired by Miami following a 24-25 record over three years.

Flores’ claims against the Dolphins, meanwhile, and similar ones made by co-plaintiffs Ray Horton and Steve Wilks against their former teams (Titans and Cardinals, respectively), will have to go to arbitration, the court ruled.

The decision comes following months of lawyers for the league arguing that the complaint should be moved to arbitration because coaches who are part of the suit signed contracts with teams.

That includes Flores, who was named the Vikings’ defensive coordinator in early February.

Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores
Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores

“We are pleased that Coach Flores’ class claims of systematic discrimination against the NFL and several teams will proceed in court and ultimately before a jury of his peers,” attorney Douglas Wigdor said in an email, per the Associated Press.

“We are disappointed the court compelled arbitration of any claims before Mr. Goodell as he is obviously biased and unqualified to rule on these matters. We expect him to delegate those matters to a truly neutral arbitrator as a matter of fundamental fairness.”

After Flores, 42, was fired by Miami he filed a bombshell class action suit against the league as well as the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants.

Flores alleged that Miami owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for each loss in his first season at the helm in order to improve the team’s draft position.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

The suit also alleged that Ross pressured Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback, despite it being in violation of tampering rules.

Miami denied any allegations of racial discrimination in its response to the suit.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Cardinals discriminated against Wilks in 2018, while Horton was given a sham interview for the Titans opening in January 2016.

In Caproni’s ruling, she said the case shined “an unflattering spotlight” on employment practices of NFL teams.

“Although the clear majority of professional football players are Black,” she wrote. “only a tiny percentage of coaches are Black.”