Lawyers for former Miami Dolphins‘ head coach Brian Flores, who is suing the NFL for racial discrimination in its hiring practices, added two more former NFL coaches to an amended complaint Thursday.
Steve Wilks, who was the Arizona Cardinals‘ head coach for one season in 2018, and Ray Horton, an NFL assistant since 1994 who interviewed for the Tennessee Titans‘ head-coaching job in 2016, are now part of the lawsuit filed against the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants, the Houston Texans, the Titans and the Cardinals, plus 26 other “John Doe” NFL teams. The Titans, Cardinals and Texans were added to the suit as part of the amendment as well.
Flores’ attorneys allege in the amended complaint that the Texans “retaliated” against Flores by removing him from consideration for their head-coaching vacancy “due to his decision to file this action and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL.”
The amended lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York. It asks for, among other things, increased transparency in NFL hiring, incentives for hiring Black coaches and increased visibility for Black assistant coaches.
Lawyers say that Wilks was discriminated against as a “bridge coach” who was “not given any meaningful chance to succeed.” Wilks was 3-13 in one season with Arizona before being fired and replaced by Kliff Kingsbury. Lawyers wrote that while Kingsbury has been successful, “Mr. Wilks, given the same opportunity afforded to Mr. Kingsbury, surely would have succeeded as well.”
“When Coach Flores filed this action, I knew I owed it to myself, and to all Black NFL coaches and aspiring coaches, to stand with him,” Wilks said in a statement released by his lawyers. “This lawsuit has shed further important light on a problem that we all know exists, but that too few are willing to confront. Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same ability to become employed, and remain employed, as white coaches and candidates. That is not currently the case, and I look forward to working with Coach Flores and Coach Horton to ensure that the aspiration of racial equality in the NFL becomes a reality.”
Wilks returned to the NFL this year as pass game coordinator and secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers after spending one season as the University of Missouri’s defensive coordinator.
Horton was defensive coordinator for the Titans in 2014-15 and interviewed for the team’s head-coaching job. Lawyers said he was given a “completely sham interview done only to comply with the Rooney Rule and to demonstrate an appearance of equal opportunity and a false willingness to consider a minority candidate for the position.” The Titans hired Mike Mularkey, who is white, for the job, and Horton left to be the defensive coordinator in Cleveland. He has since retired.