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2 More Black Coaches Join Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against NFL: 3 Things To Know


Former Arizona Cardinals pro football team head coach Steve Wilks and Cleveland Browns football defensive coordinator Ray Horton have joined National Football League coach Brian Flores in a class-action lawsuit. Wilks and Horton allege improper treatment by the NFL in Arizona and Tennessee, and their claims were added to Flores’ lawsuit on April 7.

Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins and current senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed his lawsuit on Feb. 1 against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the Miami Dolphins, claiming racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process against coaches and executives. 

Flores accused the New York Giants of interviewing him for their vacant head coach job under “sham” circumstances in his lawsuit. Three days before the interview, Flores received a congratulatory text message from one of his old bosses in New England that was intended for Brian Daboll. Daboll got the Giants coaching job.

Here are three things to know as two more Black coaches join the racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL.

1. Was Wilks a ‘bridge coach’ for NFL?

Wilks, hired this offseason as the Carolina Panthers pro football team’s new secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator, was the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach during the 2018 season. Wilks was fired by the Cardinals and replaced with current coach Kliff Kingsbury. Flores’ new amended lawsuit claims that Wilks was only hired as a “bridge coach … not given any meaningful chance to succeed.” 

“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 said in a statement released by his lawyers. “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.”

2. Did NFL put Horton through a ‘sham interview’?

Horton, who spent 2011 to 2012 as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator and has held three other coordinator jobs since, alleges the Tennessee Titans gave him a “sham interview” for their head coaching job in 2016. 

The lawsuit includes comments from Mike Mularkey, who was hired as the Titans’ coach instead of Horton. Mularkey admitted during a 2020 interview that the Titans informed him he would be hired in 2016 even before conducting interviews with minority candidates, CBS Sports reported.

The Titans, in a statement to ESPN issued before the filing of the lawsuit, disputed Mularkey’s recollection of what happened during the interview process.

“Our 2016 head coach search was an open and competitive process during which we conducted in-person interviews with four candidates and followed all NFL rules,” the team said. “The organization was undecided on its next head coach during the process and made its final decision after consideration of all four candidates following the completion of the interviews.”

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3. Black Twitter speaks on amended NFL lawsuit

Many on Black Twitter had an opinion about the two additional coaches speaking out about NFL discrimination.

Some thought the additions would help Flores’ case and bring about change in the NFL.

“Hopefully – maybe and prayerfully – this is the card that gets pulled from the deck and brings the NFL’s house of cards down on their heads,” tweeted Brian T. Jones, Sr. (@akochJonesSports).

Others wondered why the NFL coaches failed to speak out when former NFL player Colin Kaepernick was blackballed after kneeling during the National Anthem to shine a spotlight on police brutality against Black people in the U.S.

“Where were dudes when #7 was kneeling?” asked Valet Park Official (@park_valet).

Photo: Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks (L) watches during a game against the Denver Broncos, Aug. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)/Photo: Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton talks to reporters in Berea, Ohio, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)



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