Miami-area Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) on Thursday called for a congressional investigation into the “gross lack of representation and opportunity for black NFL leaders” after the former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is black, sued the league for alleged racism in its hiring practices, making Wasserman Schultz at least the second congressman to call for action on the issue.
The congresswoman said Thursday that the NFL has a “sexism and race problem – a race problem that she refuses to seriously address,” during a speech at a House committee roundtable on oversight and reform as part of an investigation into rampant sexual harassment by executives with the Washington NFL team, recently renamed the Commanders.
The call for an inquiry came a day after Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) asked a House subcommittee on consumer protections ‘to hold a speedy hearing on the issue of racism systemic in the NFL,” claiming the league was engaging in “bold racism.”
Flores, who the Dolphins fired last month after three seasons as head coach, filed a lawsuit against the NFL in federal court on Tuesday, claiming he was the subject of sham interviews for other head coaching jobs simply because teams wanted to satisfy a rule requiring them to interview, but not hire, minority candidates.
the NFL denied Flores’ racial discrimination claims, stating: “Diversity is at the heart of everything we do and there are few issues that our clubs and internal management team spend more time on.”
“Coach Flores is risking his career to raise allegations of racism against the NFL, just as Colin Kaepernick did when he protested police brutality against black men and boys,” Rush said in a letter to the NFL on Wednesday. Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.
Flores’ lawsuit renewed scrutiny of the NFL’s hiring practices and its “Rooney Rule” in particular, which requires every team with a head coaching vacancy interview to at least two minority applicants for the post. But Flores said when he interviewed for the New York Giants vacancy after the end of the 2021 regular season, the Giants had already decided they were hiring Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who is white. Flores cited text messages from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to back up his claim, after Belichick appeared to text Daboll congratulations on getting the job, but accidentally told him off. sent to Flores before he even interviewed for the Giants job.
1. On Thursday, there is only one black head coach leading an NFL team: Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The majority of players in the league are black.
Flores also made the damning allegation that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him a $100,000 bonus for every game the team lost during the 2019 season, in an effort to get a better draft pick for the team. Ross denied the request.
Flores would still be a candidate for open head coaching positions with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints.
Citing Brian Flores case, Wasserman Schultz says Congress must investigate ‘gross lack of representation and opportunity for black NFL leaders (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sues NFL for racial discrimination (Forbes)
Representative wants hearing on systemic racism in the NFL (NBC Sports)