July 6, 2022



Texans added to Brian Flores’ discrimination lawsuit against NFL

4 min read

Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL for racial discrimination in its hiring process has been amended to include the Houston Texans. Flores, who filed his original lawsuit while he was considered a finalist for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy, claims the Texans removed him from consideration as a form of retaliation “due to his decision to file this action and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.”

When Flores filed his lawsuit Feb. 1, he still was a candidate for head coaching vacancies with the Texans and Saints. Media reports had the Texans’ finalists for the job as Flores, as well as Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and former backup quarterback Josh McCown, who both are white. Later, Gannon was reported to be out of contention for the job, leaving just Flores and McCown, who has no NFL or college coaching experience.

The Texans were looking for a head coach after firing David Culley, who is Black, after just one season.

The amended lawsuit proposes that the “Texans were rightfully concerned that if it hired Mr. McCown over Mr. Flores, it would bolster Mr. Flores’ allegations of systemic discrimination against Black candidates, particularly given that the team had just fired Black Head Coach David Culley after only one season.”

Six days after Flores’ lawsuit was filed, the Texans promoted Lovie Smith, who hadn’t formally interviewed for the job at the time of the Flores lawsuit, from defensive coordinator to head coach. The lawsuit praised the Texans’ hiring of Smith, who is Black, but called it “problematic” that Flores was allegedly ruled out after the lawsuit.

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“The search for our head coach was very thorough and inclusive,” the Texans said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “Due to his previous success as a coach in the NFL, Brian Flores was among the first candidates we held a formal interview with for the position and he remained a candidate until the very end. We have a lot of respect for Brian both personally and professionally; he has been a competitive coach in the league for a number of years and his résumé speaks for itself. We enjoyed our multiple conversations with Brian regarding his vision for our organization, which included an in-person meeting with the McNair family and general manager Nick Caserio. In the end, we made the decision to hire Love Smith as our head coach and we believe he is the best fit for our team moving forward. It was a very fluid process that allowed us to spend time with a number of quality candidates. We are proud of our decision and will vigorously defend our process.”

Brian Flores’ amended lawsuit by Houston Chronicle on Scribd

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and longtime NFL assistant coach Ray Horton also have joined Flores’ lawsuit.

Flores’ original suit was against the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, who fired him despite the fact that he led the team to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002 and 2003. The suit also included the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, who Flores claims interviewed him only to fulfill the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate, and never gave him a real shot to get the job.

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Adding Wilks and Horton, means the Cardinals and Tennessee Titans also are part of the amended suit.

Wilks was fired by the Cardinals in 2018 after just one season, in which he went 3-13 and was replaced by Kliff Kingsbury. Wilks was hired as the Panthers’ defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach on Feb. 9, eight days after Flores filed his original suit.

The 61-year-old Horton was the Titans defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 and interviewed for Tennessee’s head coaching vacancy in what the lawsuit describes as a “completely sham interview done only to comply with the Rooney Rule.” Horton, who played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Bengals and Cowboys, was an assistant coach for 24 years. He most recently was the defensive backs coach in Washington in 2019 before retiring.

Mike Mularkey, who got the Titans job over Horton, has gone on the record that he was told by Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk the job was his before they even started the interview process.

“I am proud to stand with Coach Flores and Coach Wilks in combatting the systemic discrimination which has plagued the NFL for far too long,” Horton said in a statement released by his lawyers to ESPN. “When I learned from Coach Mularkey’s statements that my head coach interview with the Titans was a sham, I was devastated and humiliated. 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.”

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Flores currently is a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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