Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 31: Brian Flores and the NFL
By Quinton Lister, legal assistant
My experiences as a legal assistant to a divorce attorney have started to change my perspective on many aspects of law and the legal profession. My view on the class action lawsuit Brian Flores (a former head coach of the Miami Dolphins) just filed against the NFL shows how my perspectives have changed.
If I were not working as a legal assistant when Flores filed his lawsuit, I would have likely swallowed the narrative from the news and entertainment media on who is right and wrong and what action should be taken.
For those who may not be familiar with the Brian Flores case, I will summarize: Flores, who is black, filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL and multiple teams for racist hiring practices. After he was fired from the Miami Dolphins as head coach, Flores applied for a new coaching job and interviewed with many teams, including the New York Giants.
Flores received a congratulatory text from Bill Belichick (coach of the New England Patriots) for landing the new head coach position with the New York Giants. The problem is that first, Belichick’s text message was meant to go to a different “Brian”; specifically, Brian Daboll (a white man), who did in fact get the head coaching job). Belichick sent Flores the text by mistake. Second, Flores received Belichick’s congratulatory text message 3 days before his interview with the Giants. Flores claims this is evidence the Giants conducted a “sham” interview. Flores alleges that he interviewed by the New York Giants as the token black man to comply with the NFL’s “Rooney Rule”, a policy the NFL adopted in 2003 to boost hiring of minority coaches.
Granted, my legal knowledge is limited, but to me it was a mistake for Flores to file a lawsuit. It appears to me that Flores cannot prove he was the victim of racial discrimination. Indeed, if even he could prove his race was, ironically, exploited to comply with anti-discrimination rules, that wouldn’t prove Flores was rejected for the job because of his race. Diversity quotas may be well-intentioned, but they accomplish the opposite of what they are intended to do. While the Rooney rule and anti-discrimination laws may result in more racial minority representation the NFL’s coaching ranks, is that really racial neutrality? Trying to legislate discrimination out of existence paradoxically fosters racism, albeit a more complex, covert kind of racism. Racism is a cultural problem that can only change with a change in the culture. As affirmative action and other failed legal efforts show, such a change can only come by choice, not by fiat or force; that only aggravates existing tensions and creates more problems than it solves.
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