Wilkes, Horton join Brian Flores in lawsuit against NFL, teams accused of racism

Lawyers for former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is suing the NFL for racial discrimination in employment practices, on Thursday added a modified suit to two former NFL coaches.

Steve Wilkes, who coached the Arizona Cardinals for one season in 2018, and Ray Horton, the NFL assistant since 1994, who interviewed the Tennessee Titans in 2016, are now part of a lawsuit against the NFL. , Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Titans and Cardinals, plus 26 other NFL “John Doe” teams. The Titans, the Cardinals, the Texans were also added to the suit as part of the change.

In the amended lawsuit, Flores’s lawyers claim that the Texans “retaliated” against Flores by dismissing him for the vacant position of head coach “because of his decision to file a lawsuit and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.”

The amended complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York. It requires, among other things, greater NFL job transparency, incentives to hire black coaches, and greater visibility for black coaches.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Wilkes outscored Arizona 3-13 in a single season before being sacked and replaced by Cliff Kingsber. The lawyers wrote that if Kingsbury had been successful, “Mr. Wilkes, if he had been given the same opportunity as Mr. Kingsbury, he would certainly have been successful.”

“When coach Flores filed this lawsuit, I knew I owed it to myself, to all the NFL black coaches and future coaches, to support him,” said a statement from Wilkes’s attorneys. “This lawsuit sheds more light on an issue that we all know exists but very few are ready to resolve. Black coaches and candidates must have exactly the same ability to get a job, to stay as a white coach, to be a candidate. That is not the case. “At the moment, I look forward to working with coach Flores and coach Horton to ensure that racial equality in the NFL is achieved.”

Wilkes returned to the NFL this year as interim coordinator for the Carolina Panthers and second coach at the University of Missouri for one season as a defensive coordinator.

Horton was the Titans’ defensive coordinator from 2014-15 and was interviewed for the team’s head coaching job. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. The Titans hired Mike Mullarki, a white man,, Horton left to work as a defense coordinator in Cleveland. He has retired.

Mularki, who has been the team’s interim coach for the last nine games of the 2015 season, told the 2020 podcast that the Titans’s owners told him he would get the job before the interview process was completed, including interviews with two minority candidates.

Mularkey comments in an extensive interview with the Steelers Realm podcast in response to a question about what he regretted during his career. The allegations have taken on a new dimension since Flores filed his lawsuit in February, alleging he was discriminated against in interviews for the vacant post of head coach.

“I’m always proud to be right in this business, I can not say it ‘s right for everyone in this business,” Mullark said in a podcast. “It’s a very cruel business, a lot of people will tell you … At one point when I was in Tennessee, I allowed myself to get involved in something I regret, I still regret. But the property there, Amy Adams Strank և his family came in և they told me I was going to be the head coach in 2016 before Rooney’s rule. So I sat there knowing that I was the head coach in 2016 because they were going through a fake hiring process. Knowing a lot. the coaches they interviewed, knowing how willing they were to go to those interviews, knowing that all they could do was not get the job. In fact, CEO John Robinson was interviewing me. No. I had no idea why I was interviewing because I already had that job. Sorry, I’m sorry I did that. That was not the case. “

ESPN learned of the interview, which was not widely circulated at the time, as part of a report on Flores’s lawsuit, and asked Mullarki to comment before filing a lawsuit. Mularki was sacked by the Titans in 2017 after a 9-7 consecutive season in which they lost to the New England Patriots in the playoffs.

“I think they have the truth, what they need,” Mullark told ESPN via email. “I prefer not to make other comments.”

In a statement to ESPN before the lawsuit, the Titans questioned Mularki’s recollection of what happened during the interview, but did not make Adams Strank or any other executive available for comment.

“Our 2016 head coaching quest was an open, competitive process in which we interviewed four candidates and followed all the rules of the NFL,” the statement said. “The organization did not decide on its next head coach during the process; it made a final decision after considering all four candidates after completing the interviews.”

The two minority candidates who were the finalists in the Titans’s job in 2016, Terryl Austin & Horton, did not respond to repeated interviews with ESPN before filing the lawsuit. Austin is currently the Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Coordinator, where he works with Flores. Flores, who was sacked in January after three seasons with the Dolphins, was hired in February by head coach Mike Tomlin as senior defense assistant and line-up coach.

When contacted by ESPN before filing the lawsuit, ESPN said it was not aware of Mullarki’s comments before asking for them.

“I did a lot of internal research, it never got to the NFL,” said NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy. “We were not aware of that as a problem.”

“I’m proud to stand with Coach Flores and Coach Wilkes to fight the systemic discrimination that has plagued the NFL for so long,” Horton said in a statement issued by his lawyers. “When I learned from coach Mullarki’s statements that my head coaching interview with the Titans was a hoax, I was devastated and humiliated. By joining this work, I hope to turn that experience into something positive, make positive changes, and create real equality of opportunity. in the future. “

In the amended lawsuit, Flores’s lawyers wrote that on February 4, it was widely reported that the Texans had reduced their candidates for head coach with Flores, Philadelphia Eagles’s defense coordinator Jonathan Gannonov և Josh McCown. After it was announced that Gannon, who is white, would not be discussed anymore, the decision fell on Flores or McCown, who is also white and has no NFL coaching experience.

The complaint alleges that “Texans were justifiably concerned that hiring Mr McCown to replace Mr Flores would intensify Mr Flores’ allegations of systemic discrimination against black candidates, especially given that the team had just fired Blackberry’s coach Dave.” Just one season later, the same day, it was announced that the Texans had reduced their search to just two candidates, and it was announced that the team had decided to give a preliminary interview to its own coach, Callie’s defense coordinator, Lovy. Smith for head coaching.

The Texans eventually hired Smith, who is also black, for the job of head coach. The complaint hails Texans for hiring Smith, who is “more than qualified for the role,” but says it is “disturbing” that Flores has been ignored since he filed his lawsuit.

The amended lawsuit also reinforces allegations that Dolphins owner Steven Ross offered Flores $ 100,000 for each loss during the 2019 season, when he was the first head coach to try to “fail” to bolster the value of the Dolphins’ choice. He notes that on December 4, 2019, Flores sent a memorandum to General Manager Chris Greer, CEO Tom Garfinkel ավագ Senior Vice President of Football և Business Management Brandon Shore, where he “explained the toxicity within the organization” as unfounded. The position he held was owned by the team սեփական’s top management. ”

Flores’s lawyers said the NFL had a copy of the memorandum.

During its owners’ annual meeting last month, the NFL announced a new diversity advisory committee to review the league և club’s various rental policies. The six-member committee will “provide expert, external perspectives on industry best practices”, assess league և diversity of clubs, equality և inclusion strategies և initiatives, including all recruitment processes, policies և procedures, with priority given to senior coaches. Office staff positions.

“While the NFL can hire outside consultants, make minor changes to the rules, support various stakeholders, real, lasting changes can only be made through a court-appointed monitor, as the NFL has repeatedly shown that it is incapable of to self-regulate, “say lawyers Douglas H. In the statement of John Eleftherakis of Wigdor.

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