Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy Featured in New Lawsuit Brought Against the NFL

Eric Bieniemy

Getty Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on January 29, 2020.

On the same day Tom Brady announced his retirement, an even bigger story overtook the NFL like a tidal wave. Ex-Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the league and three organizations in particular on February 1, 2022.

The lawsuit alleges that the NFL demonstrates “racial disparities … in the hiring and retention” of Black head coaches, coordinators and general managers and specifically names the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is included among the legal complaint’s “Notable Recent Examples of Discriminatory Conduct,” with the headline, “Eric Bieniemy Cannot Get a Head Coach Job.”

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Bieniemy Not Offered an HC Position, Despite ‘Numerous White Candidates Who Are Clearly Less Qualified’ Being Hired

Flores isn’t the first to point out the fact that despite his resume and numerous interviews, Bieniemy hasn’t landed a head coaching position. He was asked about it in February 2021 just before his second Super Bowl appearance in as many years as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

“I did not ask to be the poster boy of this particular situation that I have experienced,” he said during the press conference. “At the end of the day, the only thing that you want to do is be recognized with all the things that you’ve accomplished, and for whatever reason, that has not happened.”

Bieniemy’s strong track record in Kansas City and rave reviews from respected individuals like head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes have made his lack of opportunity as a head coach baffling to many — including Flores.

The lawsuit features Bieniemy’s story as an example of discriminatory hiring.

“Eric Bieniemy has been a highly successful NFL coach for almost 12 years and has yet to be offered a Head Coach position despite more than 70 vacancies during that time,” according to the complaint. The document outlines some of Bieniemy’s key accomplishments, noting his two trips to the Super Bowl and some impressive stats with the Chiefs, including that the team was “first in the NFL in yards per game and scored the third-most points in a season in NFL history” with Bieniemy as offensive coordinator in 2018.

“Without question, Mr. Bieniemy has the pedigree, track record and reputation to make him a sought-after Head Coach. However, despite being interviewed for approximately 20 vacant positions over the last five years, no team has extended Mr. Bieniemy an offer. During this time, numerous white candidates who are clearly less qualified have taken over the Head Coach duties for numerous NFL teams,” according to the legal complaint.

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Broncos Were Bieniemy’s Lone Interview in 2022

Although Bieniemy was a hot candidate in previous head coaching cycles, he only received one interview in 2022 — with the Denver Broncos.

The organization has since hired ex-Green Bay Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett.

According to Flores’ complaint, “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.”

Denver immediately responded to the allegations (via Adam Schefter).

They wrote:

The allegations from Brian Flores directed toward the Denver Broncos in today’s court filing are blatantly false. Our interview with Mr. Flores regarding our head coaching position began promptly at the scheduled time of 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2019, in a Providence, R.I., hotel. There were five Broncos executives present for the interview, which lasted approximately three-and-a-half hours — the fully allotted time — and concluded shortly before 11 a.m. Pages of detailed notes, analysis and evaluations from our interview demonstrate the depth of our conversation and sincere interest in Mr. Flores as a head coaching candidate. Our process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position. The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization — and its employees — from such baseless and disparaging claims.


Why Has E.B. Not Received an HC Offer?

Reid has spoken on Bieniemy’s behalf numerous times and while former Reid disciples like Sean McDermott, John Harbaugh, Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson have been hired after serving under the future Hall of Famer, Bieniemy has not.

“It disappoints me that somebody hasn’t hired him,” Reid said in a January 14 press conference. “I’m hoping that takes place this year.”

Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright has been vocal on why Bieniemy has not been hired. On January 27, he tweeted: “Bieniemy has had 8 interviews and no offers. It’s a combination of a very problematic background + a horrendous tenure as an OC at Colorado + perception that KC success is largely Reid and Mahomes + not selling any team that he’s the guy.”

Another common explanation from observers is that Bieniemy does not call plays for the Chiefs, but there is video evidence of Reid saying otherwise.

Reid stated: “When people say — E.B. doesn’t call the plays — E.B. does. I mean, he literally calls the plays in there and I have full trust that if he has an idea and he wants to shoot it, then he puts it in and we go. I never question it.”

Even if he didn’t call the plays, it would not be the first time an offensive coordinator was hired in a similar capacity. In fact, journalist Chuck Modi questioned the Hackett hire for the exact same reasons.

Bears content creator Joseph Herff gave his take on the Chicago situation, where Ryan Poles — the former Chiefs executive director of player personnel, and a Black man — decided not to interview Bieniemy after being hired as their new general manager, despite the pair’s KC ties. “The fact Ryan Poles didn’t even bring in Eric Bieniemy in for an interview is telling imo,” he wrote.

Fans speculated that the Bears’ previous hire, Nagy, may have had something to do with the organization steering clear of Bieniemy — being that they’re both offensive-minded disciples of Reid.

E.B. has yet to respond publicly to his inclusion in this lawsuit.

ESPN NFL insider Field Yates shared the NFL’s official response to Flores’ court filing. It read: “The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations. Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”

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