Editor’s note: This column has been updated to correct Brian Flores’ first name. We regret the error.
Even in the wake of the Super Bowl, the one story that won’t go away involves Brian Flores, Roger Goodell, and the NFL drama that’s been ensuing over the past week.
Even President Biden weighed in on the issue hours before the Super Bowl kicked off.
“The whole idea that a league that is made up of so many athletes of color, as well as so diverse, that there’s not enough African American qualified coaches to quote, ‘to manage,’ these NFL teams, it just seems to me that it’s a standard that they’d want to live up to,” Biden said.
The Rooney Rule was implemented in 2003 by the NFL in an effort to provide minority coaches the opportunity to be considered for primary positions within NFL organizations. While the rule appears fantastic on its face, the policy has turned out to be another example of the league simply “checking the box,” as Flores referred to the situation.
In his lawsuit, Flores accuses the Denver Broncos of disingenuously interviewing him for their head-coaching position in 2019. He also accuses Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of offering to pay him $100,000 a game to lose intentionally for a better draft pick, and claims the New York Giants arranged for an intended to conduct a sham interview.
While all three teams deny Flores’ accusations, the former Dolphins coach looks to have provided evidence to support his assertions.
On January 24th, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick “mistakenly disclosed” to Flores that he would be hired by the Giants, mistaking him for Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
The Giants officially announce Daboll’s hiring three days after interviewing Flores. Daboll is white, while Flores is Black. In interviews with several media outlets, Flores described the plethora of emotions he harbored, which ran the gamut between humiliation, anger, and disbelief.
Flores was hurt. What rational human being wouldn’t be?
In comes Goodell, who said next to nothing of significance in regards to Flores’ accusations. If anything, he recited the usual obligatory mea culpas of how the NFL takes the issue of racism seriously, has no tolerance for it. and will move to address and punish those caught engaged in such acts. Yada, yada, yada. Please, spare us.
What did anyone with half a brain believe Goodell was going to say? We condone and support racial discrimination in all its forms, both subtle and overt? Racism is a prime goal of the NFL?
What group, organization or foundation is going to espouse such a thing? Art, entertainment, business, academia, politics, the ministry all have diversity and inclusion statements on their websites. Hell, even the Ku Klux Klan has decided to implement a diversity statement on its website. (sarcasm)
The NFL is a corporation, and Goodell is its face. During his tenure, the league has continued to financially grow and prosper. And Goodell is very effective in his position, deftly protecting the interests of the league. Thus, the man is keeping his job for the time being.
Meanwhile, many observers believe that Michael Flores, like Colin Kaepernick, may have effectively ended his career by pursuing such a stance.
Racism is a reactionary ingredient that has been deeply etched into the fabric of America. It has been with us since the settlers arrived on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia— the cruelest of cancers that has managed to metastasize its rapacious spirit within the bones of our nation’s DNA.
Racism is as American as blue skies and apple pie. And the NFL’s Brian Flores saga is just a mere microcosm of this sad reality.
Copyright 2022 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.