Loretta Lynch (102145)
Credit: justice.gov

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has hired a law firm that includes former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to defend it and its teams in Brian Flores’ race discrimination lawsuit.

Lynch, the attorney general in the latter part of the Obama administration, will work with Brad Karp, chairman at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Karp previously has worked for the league in concussion cases.

Flores, who is Black, was fired as Miami’s coach last month despite back-to-back winning seasons. He named the league and three teams — the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants — in a class-action lawsuit earlier this month, alleging unfair hiring practices in the NFL.

After the lawsuit was filed, the league said it would defend itself against claims it called “without merit.” The Dolphins, Broncos and Giants also denied Flores’ allegations.

Soon after, in a memo to the 32 clubs, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said:

“We understand the concerns expressed by coach Flores and others. … While the legal process moves forward, we will not wait to reassess and modify our strategies to ensure that they are consistent with our values and longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

During his annual Super Bowl news conference, when Goodell frequently was grilled about diversity in the NFL and the Flores’ case, the commissioner added:

“We won’t tolerate racism. We won’t tolerate discrimination. I found all of the allegations, whether they were based on racism or discrimination or the integrity of our game, all of those to me were very disturbing. They are very serious matters to us on all levels, and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them.”

In his lawsuit, Flores cites a string of text messages with Patriots coach Bill Belichick three days before his scheduled Giants interview for the head coaching position. Those texts led Flores to believe Brian Daboll already had been chosen as the new coach.

“It was humiliating to be quite honest,” Flores said. “There was disbelief, there was anger, there was a wave of emotion for a lot of reasons.”

There were nine head coach openings this offseason and two went to minorities: Mike McDaniel, who replaced Flores in Miami and is biracial, and Lovie Smith, who is African American and replaced David Culley, who also is Black. That brought the total of minority head coaches to five, three Black. More than 70% of NFL players are Black.

Flores also alleges in the lawsuit that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for every loss during the coach’s first season (2019) because he wanted the club to “tank” so it could get the draft’s top pick.

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