BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL this week for the hiring practices of all 32 NFL teams.
He accused the owners of the teams of making a mockery of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, in which teams interviewed African-American coaching candidates as nothing more than a sham. He alleged the Giants did not take him seriously as a candidate with the idea they planned on hiring Brian Daboll as head coach.
Here’s what stood out to me in his lawsuit: The New York Giants. He’s not wrong here. I always felt the Giants were never serious in hiring him as a head coach because they believe in hiring a coach that looks like a corporate person. Daboll fits the part while he doesn’t.
Not only just that but as long as John Mara and Steve Tisch own the Giants, there will never be an African-American head coach. I felt that way after they decided not to hire Louis Riddick to be the general manager a few years ago.
The apologists make a case they hired Jerry Reese as the general manager. A critic can counter that he was hired basically to do what Mara tells him to do. It’s hard to believe the Giants would hire an African-American executive to make moves of his own volition. It was evident when he was fired after he and then-Giants head coach Ben McAdoo decided it was time to bench Eli Manning for Geno Smith without consulting with Mara.
Look, Daboll may turn out to be the best coach the Giants ever had. He may even be the best since two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Tom Coughlin, even though the bar is really not that high after Coughlin’s three predecessors in Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge failed.
But it does not change the fact the Giants never hired an African-American head coach.
The opportunity presented itself for the Giants to hire Flores as head coach. He made a case to coach them being that he is from Brooklyn and that he got the Miami Dolphins to overachieve in his three seasons. He has street credibility with the players based on his NFL head coaching experience. In fact, Mara encouraged Giants general manager Joe Schoen to hire him over Daboll.
Schoen decided to hire someone that he felt comfortable with. He worked with Daboll with the Buffalo Bills, so he knew what he was getting in him. He trusted him the most.
This shouldn’t be a crime, but it was a joke that he made a mockery of the interviews with Flores and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier with the idea he made up his decision to hire Daboll as soon as he got the Giants general manager job. He wasted everyone’s time interviewing a couple of African-American coaching candidates. What does it tell you when he made his decision five minutes after he finished interviewing Frazier?
This is why Flores is suing the league. He wants to bring attention to executives and owners who basically found loopholes to the Rooney Rule in hiring white head coaches that they trust rather than taking minorities seriously as head-coaching candidates in interviews.
Flores should be commended, not mocked. He risked his coaching future for the greater good. It could have been easy to sit back and relax until his time came. He did it to benefit future black coaches. In a way, he has a chance to be a trailblazer by doing this. He may not be a head coach in the NFL anymore, but he paved the way for other black coaches to actually get a head coaching job out of merit rather than being interviewed as a token.
For anyone to rip him for being on TV this week, just stop. This isn’t promotional nonsense. He is a man of conviction. He does this for a reason. Again, there’s nothing to gain for him by going on CNN, ESPN and CBS to talk about his lawsuit.
His actions this week may have provided a positive effect. The Houston Texans have no choice but to hire defensive coordinator Lovie Smith as the head coach since they would be criticized and ostracized for hiring Josh McCown as a head coach after firing an African-American head coach David Culley after one season.
If the Texans hire Smith, a cynic can say he is set to be a fall guy the way Culley was. It’s hard to say he or she is wrong on that one. Smith shouldn’t go along with that, but he will because it’s an opportunity and he feels the responsibility to lead the way for other African-Americans coaching candidates. Plus, he wants to make the most out of Flores’ fight.
The NFL has nine coaching vacancies, and seven of the hires are White. While new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is biracial, it’s fair to wonder if he would be hired if he was black. This is where Flores has a case again.
Flores winning the lawsuit does nothing for me. If African-American head coaching candidates benefit from the lawsuit from getting an actual chance to be an NFL head coach or even college coach, that’s more of a win for him and them.
Maybe one day the Giants will hire an African-American head coach before I croak.
Now that would be called making history. One that Giants fans can be proud of.
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