Opinion | ‘It Wasn’t an Easy Decision’: Brian Flores Talks About His Lawsuit Against the N.F.L.

Jane: Can you tell me about the conversations you had with other coaches?

Brian: They talked about their own experiences, sharing stories with me about things that were instances where they felt like they were getting a limited role interview, one that didn’t feel like it was fair and equitable. I think it’s a place of comfort for them to talk to me. Hopefully they will step outside and talk about it publicly, but I understand why they wouldn’t. This is a game we love to coach. We love the relationships. And it’s a living, you know? And if we take a chance and speak out against the unfairness and the injustice in the hiring process and really the firing process, it’s a hard thing to do. But I wasn’t going to be able to live with myself — I was going to have a lot of regrets — if I didn’t speak up right now.

Jane: Are you still up for other coaching jobs? I know you’ve interviewed for multiple positions.

Brian: I’m still in the running for Houston and the New Orleans Saints. I interviewed in both places, and I interviewed well. I would love to lead either one of those teams — do what I love to do — which is coach football and make an impact on young men through the game.

Jane: Do you think that Brian Daboll is a qualified coach?

Brain: He and I were on the same staff at the New England Patriots. I know Brian very well. He’s someone I consider a friend. He’s more than capable. He’s a very good candidate. This isn’t about his candidacy. This is about getting a message saying he was hired before I got an opportunity to interview and showcase my ability as a coach and whether or not I’d be a good candidate.

Jane: You’ve been in the league for a long time. Can you talk about what the N.F.L. has said about wanting to combat discrimination and what has gone wrong?

Brian: As a Black coach in the National Football League, you go in knowing that you’re essentially on a short leash. You have to coach well, you have to play well, you have to win. You’re not going to have as much time to build. You go into it knowing that. Is it fair? No, but that’s part of why we filed the lawsuit, because it shouldn’t be that way. It should be a level playing field. You could have a fluff policy or a fluff rule, but those things don’t really matter. What matters is owners changing their hearts, changing their minds. And if they’re not willing to do that, then my opinion is that we should have new, different owners, because the league is 70 percent Black.

Jane: This lawsuit is meant to send a message to the N.F.L. as well as generate change within the league. What types of pressure do you want to see the N.F.L. put on the owners?

Brian: I do want to force the issue. I want something that’s genuine. I want something that’s sincere. I want something that’s authentic. I want teams to open up and take a harder look at someone who’s Black or a minority. No different than having an open mind about someone who’s white. This is 2022, you know? It really doesn’t have to be that way.

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