Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has sued the NFL and three teams over alleged racist hiring practices for aspiring coaches. The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court has sought class-action status and unspecified damages from the league, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants.

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The lawsuit claimed that the 40-year-old was forced to undergo a “sham interview” with the Broncos in 2019. Then-Broncos general manager, John Elway, President Joe Ellis and others showed up almost an hour later for his interview.

“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule,” the lawsuit claims, adding that his treatment by the team was typical of how the “Rooney Rule” has been administered for the last 20 years. 

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What is the Rooney Rule in NFL?

The rule was established in 2003 and named after the legendary owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney while he was chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. It was created with an aim to give more minority candidates opportunities to become head coaches and reward teams who develop them.

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In 2020, the league amended the rule to stipulate teams must interview at least two minority candidates not associated with their own team for a head coaching vacancy.

According to the new rules, one minority candidate has to be interviewed for coordinator positions as well as high-ranking positions in the front office, including the general manager role.

With inputs from The Associated Press