The Washington Post

Flores will be able to pursue some discrimina­tion claims in court, judge rules


A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores can continue to pursue claims in court against three teams and the NFL in his racial discrimina­tion lawsuit, while Flores and two other Black coaches who joined his suit must submit other claims to league-administer­ed arbitratio­n.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ruled that Flores’s claims against the Dolphins, Steve Wilks’s claims against the Arizona Cardinals and Ray Horton’s claims against the Tennessee Titans must be submitted to arbitratio­n under the authority of NFL Commission­er Roger Goodell, based on the terms of their employment contracts. But Flores may litigate his claims in federal court against the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Houston Texans, along with his related claims against the NFL, Caproni ruled.

“This case shines an unflatteri­ng spotlight on the employment practices of National Football League (‘NFL’) teams,” Caproni wrote at the outset of her 30-page decision. “Although the clear majority of profession­al football players are Black, only a tiny percentage of coaches are Black.”

Flores filed the lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Wilks and Horton joined the suit in April. The suit had listed the other NFL teams, identified as “John Doe teams 1 through 26,” as defendants.

“We are pleased that Coach Flores’ class claims of systematic discrimina­tion against the NFL and several teams will proceed in court and ultimately before a jury of his peers,” Douglas H. Wigdor, an attorney for Flores, said in a statement. “We are disappoint­ed the court compelled arbitratio­n of any claims before Mr. Goodell as he is obviously biased and unqualifie­d to rule on these matters. We expect him to delegate those matters to a truly neutral arbitrator as a matter of fundamenta­l fairness. We look forward to pursuing all these claims to trial in their various forums.”

The NFL had sought to have all the claims resolved through arbitratio­n.

Flores spent the recently completed NFL season as a senior defensive assistant and linebacker­s coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being fired by the Dolphins following the 2021 season. He recently was hired as the defensive coordinato­r of the Minnesota Vikings. He previously interviewe­d with the Broncos, Giants and Texans for their head coaching jobs.

● MISC.: NFL representa­tives and members of the competitio­n committee began their annual deliberati­ons over potential rule changes and policy modificati­ons this week at the scouting combine in Indianapol­is.

It does not appear as if the league will enact any major rule changes this offseason. The process will play out in the coming weeks, leading to votes by the team owners on proposed changes during the annual league meeting in late March in Phoenix.

Here’s a look at what was discussed during this week’s competitio­n committee meetings:

The Los Angeles Rams proposed making roughing-the-passer calls reviewable by instant replay.

It appears to be a long shot that the proposal will receive the 24 votes from the 32 owners necessary for ratificati­on.

The committee generally opposes making such subjective calls subject to replay. It made an exception in the 2019 season, when the league and owners made pass interferen­ce calls and non-calls reviewable by replay in the aftermath of the uproar over the missed call during the previous season’s NFC championsh­ip game. But most regarded the system as a failure, and the NFL and the owners scrapped it after only one season.

The league and committee are discussing the possibilit­y of making hip-drop tackles illegal.

The tackling technique resulted in postseason ankle injuries to Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard and Kansas City Chiefs quarterbac­k Patrick Mahomes.

The issue was discussed during this week’s meeting between NFL health and safety officials and the competitio­n committee.

There’s debate about enacting a rule against pushing the quarterbac­k on sneaks.

The Philadelph­ia Eagles, in particular, became enthralled with the technique of using Jalen Hurts’s offensive teammates to push him forward on quarterbac­k sneaks. It was effective. But there is concern, Vincent said, that the approach will result in an injury that could be avoided if the NFL makes it illegal for a teammate to push a ballcarrie­r forward.

There were indication­s that a team proposed the fourth-and-15 alterative to the onside kick.

Again. The measure has come up in previous offseasons and never was particular­ly close to receiving the support necessary for ratificati­on. Some owners consider it too much of a gimmick. It would give a team the option to try to retain possession by converting a fourthand-15 play from its 25-yard line. If successful, that team would keep possession of the ball, and its drive would continue. If it failed, the opponent would take possession at the spot at which the play ended.

 ?? ELIZABETH FLORES/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Brian Flores, who recently was named defensive coordinato­r of the Vikings, was fired as coach of the Dolphins after the 2021 season.
ELIZABETH FLORES/ASSOCIATED PRESS Brian Flores, who recently was named defensive coordinato­r of the Vikings, was fired as coach of the Dolphins after the 2021 season.

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