Former HC Steve Wilkes, former NFL assistant Ray Horton will join Brian Flores in a modified class action lawsuit; new charges against cardinals, titans, Texans

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilkes and former NFL assistant coach Ray Horton, both black, have joined a federal class action lawsuit filed earlier this year by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, accusing him of racial discrimination on his part in membership teams.

The amended amendment, filed Thursday in New York’s Southern District, includes new allegations of discrimination against the Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. The complaint also set out eight proposals for changes to the NFL “to create a future with equal opportunities for black candidates,” including promoting black ownership, increasing transparency in hiring and firing, increasing visibility for black assistant coaches, and increasing the pipeline for black coaches.

An NFL spokesman declined to comment on the complaint with amendments.

In a complaint with amendments, Horton claims that the Titans conducted a “sham interview” with him for the vacancy of head coach in January 2016, when the team had already decided to hire Mike Mularki. At the time, Horton was the Titans ’defense coordinator, and Mularki, who is white, was the team’s interim head coach.

Horton claims that his interview with the team’s head coach was conducted so that the Titans could make it look like they were following Rooney’s rule and “giving equal opportunities to black candidates” before announcing the pre-hiring decision. [Mularkey] as head coach ”.

The complaint further quotes Fr. Interview podcast 2020 in which Mularki said he regretted the process that led to him becoming the head coach of the Titans.

“I allowed myself at one point when I was in Tennessee to get excited about something I regret, and still regret it, but owner Amy Adams Page and her family came and told me I would be the head coach in 2016 year before they went through the Rooney rule, ”Mularki said.“ And so I sat knowing that I was the head coach in 2016 when they went through this fake hiring process, knowing knowing many of the coaches they take with interviews, knowing how ready they were to go through these interviews, knowing all they could do and they didn’t have a chance to get the job. ”

On Thursday, Horton said he “devastated and humiliated“when he learned that his interview with the Titans was bogus.

“By joining this cause, I hope to turn this experience into a positive one and make lasting changes and create real equal opportunities in the future,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, the Titans defended the process of finding a new head coach in 2016.

“Our search for a head coach in 2016 was a thoughtful and competitive process that was fully in line with NFL guidelines and our own organizational values,” the team said. “We conducted detailed personal interviews with four talented people, two of whom were different candidates. No decision was made or reported until all interviews were completed. While we are proud of our commitment to diversity, we are committed to further growth as an organization. to promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace and in society. ”

Flores ’initial lawsuit involved allegations against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross that Ross told Flores that he would pay him $ 100,000 for each loss during the coach’s first season in 2019 to get No. 1 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Ross denied the allegations.

According to the court on Thursday, Flores, who is now the senior assistant / coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers line defenders, allegedly sent a note on December 4, 2019 to Dolphins CEO Chris Grier, CEO Tom Garfinkel and Senior CEO Brendan Shore about the wish of Brendan Shore. games and “toxicity that existed within the organization”.

NFL.com turned to Dolphins for comment.

The amended complaint also included an allegation of “retaliation” by the Texans against Flores as a result of his original lawsuit. Flores claims he was not hired to replace David Callie, who is black, and was fired after his only season as head coach of the Texans spent 4-13 because Flores sued the league and “publicly talked about systemic racism in the NFL. “

The complaint cites a Feb. 6 report that Flores and former NFL defender Josh McCown were clear finalists for Houston’s head coach, and said the team was “concerned” that when it hired McCown, who is white, ” this reinforces Flores’ allegations of systemic discrimination against black candidates. ” On Feb. 8, the Texans hired Lowe Smith, who is black and served as the team’s defense coordinator under Callie, as the next head coach.

“The search for our head coach was very thorough and inclusive,” the Texans said in a statement on Thursday. “Because of his previous success as a coach in the NFL, Brian Flores was one of the first candidates with whom we had a formal interview for the position, and he remained a candidate until the very end. We have great respect for Brian both personally and professionally. He has been a competitive coach in the league for several years, and his resume speaks for itself.We enjoyed our repeated conversations with Brian about his vision of our organization, which included a personal meeting with the McNair family and General Manager Nick Caserio In the end, we decided to hire Lowe Smith as head coach, and we think he is the best fit for the movement of our team.It was a very smooth process that allowed us to spend time with a number of quality candidates.We are proud of our decision and we will vigorously defend our process. “

Joining the lawsuit, Steve Wilkes claims he was hired as the “bridge coach” of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and was “unfairly and discriminatory fired” after one season at the club. Wilkes claims differences in the way he was treated compared to GM Steve Keim, who is white. Wilkes describes that in his first season as head coach he was in a “serious disadvantage” due to Keim’s five-week dismissal following the DUI arrest, causing Keim to miss the Cardinals training camp and most of their preseason. Wilkes claims that while Kame was fired, GM was involved in negotiations for a contract to return David Johnson. In addition, Wilkes said in the complaint that he preferred to exchange cardinals to select Josh Allen in the 2018 NFL Draft, while Keim preferred to trade with Josh Rosen. Allen made one Pro Bowl of his career and became one of the league’s best defenders, while Rosen held one season in Arizona.

Wilkes noted that he was fired after winning 3-13 in one season in Arizona, and Keim received a four-year contract a month later. He also noted that the current Cardinals coach, Cliff Kingsbury, White, had a “much longer chain” to succeed after going 5-10-1 in his first season.

“The decisions we made after the 2018 season were very difficult,” the cardinals said in a statement on Thursday. “But, as we said at the time, they were entirely driven by what mattered the interests of our organization and was necessary to improve the team. We are confident that the facts reflect this and show that these allegations are untrue.”

Wilkes, who is currently an assistant defense coach at the Carolina Panthers, said Thursday in a statement that he hopes the lawsuit will help achieve racial equality in the league.

“When Coach Flores filed this lawsuit, I knew I owed it to myself, to all Black NFL coaches and future coaches to be with him,” he said. “This lawsuit has shed further important light on a problem we all know about, but which too few want to face. Black coaches and candidates must have exactly the same opportunities to get a job and stay at work as white coaches and candidates.”

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