The NFL along with the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, and Tennessee Titans filed a motion to shift Brian Flores’s racial discrimination lawsuit into private arbitration before commissioner Roger Goodell, according to The Atheltic’s David Wallach.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio called the league’s interpretation of its Constitution “aggressive”.
“Close inspection of the 25-page memorandum of law filed by the NFL earlier this week in the case filed by Brian Flores, Steve Wilks, and Ray Horton reveals a very aggressive interpretation of the NFL’s Constitution & Bylaws, as part of an effort to force all of the claims out of court and into a process that is far more favorable to the league and its teams,” Florio wrote. “As to all three plaintiffs, the broad arbitration clauses contained in their employment contracts become the obvious basis for an effort to force arbitration.”
The arbitration clause can apply to teams that the plaintiffs were employed by. For instance, Flores is suing the Dolphins as part of the suit. Flores served as Miami’s head coach from 2019 to 2021. In that case, he may be forced to arbitrate.
However, his claims against the Broncos, Giants, and Texans are more complicated, as he was never actually employed by those teams. That is where Flores’ attorney can argue to avoid arbitration.
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Flores Claims Broncos Conducted a ‘Sham’ Interview
Flores’s lawsuit alleges the Broncos conducted a “sham” interview with him to satisfy the Rooney Rule, and former general manager John Elway showed up “disheveled”.
“Indeed, in 2019 Mr. Flores was scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos’ then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before.
“It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”
Broncos: Elway Denied the Allegations
Elway released a statement on February 3 denying Flores’ claims, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“While I was not planning to respond publicly to the false and defamatory claims by Brian Flores, I could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked,” Elway said.
“I took Coach Flores very seriously as a candidate for our head coaching position in 2019 and enjoyed our three-and-a-half hour interview with him. Along with the rest of our group, I was prepared, ready and fully engaged during the entire interview as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team. It’s unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him.”
“For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong,” Elway continued. “If I appeared ‘disheveled,’ as he claimed, it was because we had flown in during the middle of the night – immediately following another interview in Denver – and were going on a few hours of sleep to meet the only window provided to us. I interviewed Brian in good faith, giving him the same consideration and opportunity as every other candidate for our head coaching position in 2019.”