Billionaire developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay the team’s former head coach, Brian Flores, to lose games and pressured him to violate league rules, Flores claimed.
In a discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday against the NFL and its 32 teams, Flores claimed that Ross, the chairman and founder of New York-based Related Companies, offered him $100,000 for each of the Dolphins’ losses in 2019, Flores’ first year as head coach.
Flores alleges that Dolphins’ general manager Chris Grier said Ross was “mad” when the team managed to win five of its final nine games that season because those wins were “compromising” its draft position.
The lawsuit also alleges that Ross pressured Flores into recruiting a “prominent quarterback” in violation of the league’s anti-tampering rules. At one point, Ross invited Flores to lunch on his yacht and informed him that the quarterback was arriving at the same time.
“Mr. Flores refused the meeting and left the yacht immediately,” the lawsuit states. “After the incident, Mr. Flores was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.”
Flores was fired in January after leading the team to its “first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003,” the lawsuit states. The complaint says Flores was “labeled by the Dolphins brass” as someone who was “difficult to work for.”
“This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes,” the complaint alleges.
Flores’ lawsuit claims the NFL has discriminated against him and other Black coaches, coordinators and general managers in its hiring process. The complaint refers to Flores interviewing for the head coach position for the New York Giants in what it calls a “sham process,” citing text messages Flores exchanged with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The Giants hired Brian Daboll, who is white, last week.
NFL rules require teams to interview minority candidates for open head coaching positions, but Belichick texted Flores three days before Flores’ interview with the Giants that he heard Daboll had already been selected, according to text messages included in the complaint.
Ross, a major real estate player in New York and South Florida, first invested in the Dolphins franchise in 2008, later taking full control of the team and what is now called Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.