Monday, December 5 2022

Place, the hiring of Brian Flores by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant coach has no bearing on Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit — which is seeking class-action status — against the NFL.

Flores, a former Miami Dolphins head coach for three seasons, says the most successful and powerful league in professional sports commits widespread malpractice in its hiring practices, and he is pursuing his complaint.

But there’s a lot to be said for the optics of the NFL’s actions since Flores, who is Afro-Latino, turned on “family” — especially when compared to the league’s response to Colin Kaepernick.

Pointing out that there are differences between the two approaches is like saying the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line was outplayed by the Los Angeles Rams defensive line in Super Bowl LVI. The statement is true – but there is so much more to the story.

Team owners were apoplectic after Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat on the bench and then knelt before games in the 2016-17 season to highlight the oppression systemic and police brutality.

Even as senior league officials negotiated with players to end the protest sparked by Kaepernick, some club owners continued to fuel players’ frustration by making comments that proved they simply didn’t Not understood. In contrast, others have threatened to flout league rules to prevent players from offending many concerned fans and sponsors.

Kaepernick settled his collusion grievance against the league in February 2019. He alleged team owners conspired to end his playing career because of his political beliefs. Thereafter, the NFL remained silent on the central point of Kaepernick’s thesis: the league covets black bodies for its on-field labor but cares little for black lives.

It wasn’t until June 2020 that commissioner Roger Goodell, backed in a corner by numerous star players including superstar Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, admitted the league had erred in the handling peaceful protests by NFL players and condemned racism and asserted that black lives matter. . Additionally, Goodell pledged allegiance to those involved in the battle for equal justice under the law.

In 2020, black or African American players made up 57.5% of players on NFL rosters. And the number was as high as 69.7%. For Kaepernick, nothing was more important than exposing the hypocrisy of team owners — the NFL has never had a black one — in a predominantly black league.

Kaepernick was ready to die on that hill, and he did: Since the end of the 2016-17 season, the talented passer hasn’t taken a shot behind center in an NFL game. Flores noticed it.

After filing his lawsuit this month, Flores, in a statement, hinted that his NFL coaching career may be over, saying, “God has endowed me with a special talent for coaching. football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals.

On Saturday, Flores returned to the game.

Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores (right) will join Mike Tomlin’s (left) coaching staff in Pittsburgh for the 2022 season.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin hired Flores as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach. He is expected to make a big contribution to the Steelers’ defensive approach. Tomlin is one of only three black head coaches in the 32-team league (Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans and Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins, whose father is black, are the others).

Flores is dramatically overqualified for his new gig, but at least he found some league work after accepting it. Obviously, Kaepernick wasn’t so lucky.

Additionally, the league has moved at lightning speed in recognizing, well, yes, something is wrong with its hiring efforts. Just four days after Flores sued the league, Goodell revealed in a memo sent to owners that the NFL understands the concerns expressed by Flores and others, and will launch a full review of its entire approach to the game. diversity, equity and inclusion.

In the previous five hiring cycles, there have been 36 head coach openings. Five black men were hired to fill positions. Five. Let it sink in.

Many NFL watchers may believe the league is now legally clear as Flores has a new job and an independent review of his hiring practices is underway. Not so fast, says Susan D. Carle, a law professor at American University Washington College of Law.

The league has yet to deal with Flores’ complaint, said Carle, an expert in discrimination, labor and employment law.

“He was hired by only one employer,” Carle said. “But the employer he alleges racially discriminated…it doesn’t change that.”

Likewise, the potential class-action status of Flores’ lawsuit is not negatively affected as long as he continues to receive a paycheck from the league.

“No. Not at all,” Carle said. “His [still] a matter of proving that class members who applied for head coaching jobs didn’t get them and that racial discrimination was a motivating factor…in hiring decisions.

And it’s important to keep your eyes clear on the subject of Flores’ lawsuit.

“These are head coaching positions. And he wasn’t hired as a head coach,” Carle said. “The hiring stats for head coaching positions are truly abysmal, which definitely indicates that something is wrong. That’s the problem the league needs to address.

Without a doubt. Perhaps the NFL has learned a thing or two about the lens of dealing with allegations of systemic discrimination raised by Black men in its workplace, but it still has a long way to go to address the key concerns that they lift.

Jason Reid is the Senior NFL Writer at The Undefeated. He enjoys watching sports, especially games involving his son and daughter.


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