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Brian Flores lawsuit: 2 more coaches join class-action, including Steve Wilks

Vincent Frank

The Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL is not going away any time soon. Earlier this offseason, Flores filed a class action against the league and its teams claiming racism in the hiring process for coaches and front office personnel.

Flores’ suit came after he was fired by the Miami Dolphins following two consecutive winning seasons. It also came after he was passed up for the New York Giants’ head coach job.

We can now add a couple more names to the mix. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and defensive coordinator Ray Horton have joined the Brian Flores’ lawsuit.

“Former Cardinals’ HC Steve Wilks and former defensive coordinator Ray Horton now have joined Brian Flores’ race discrimination class action lawsuit against the NFL and various teams.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Brian Flores lawsuit

Wilks, 52, served as the Arizona Cardinals head coach for just one season. He posted a 3-13 record in 2018 before being fired. He’s among the rare one-and-done head coaches in modern NFL history.

Most recently, Wilks served as the Missouri Tigers defensive coordinator in college last season. He was just brought on to be the Carolina Panthers’ defensive pass-game coordinator and secondary coach this offseason. He touched on joining Brian Flores’ lawsuit in a statement obtained by Sportsnaut.

“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. 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.”

Steve Wilks’ on joining Brian Flores lawsuit

As for Horton, the former NFL defensive back was in the league as an assistant from 1994-2019. This included stints as a defensive coordinator for the Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns.

His most-recent job was as the Washington Commanders defensive backs coach in 2019. Horton also released a statement that has been obtained by Sportsnaut.

“I am proud to stand with Coach Flores and Coach Wilks in combatting the systemic discrimination which has plagued the NFL for far too long.

When I learned from Coach Mularkey’s statements that my head coach interview with the Titans was a sham, I was devastated and humiliated. By joining this case, I am hoping to turn that experience into a positive and make lasting change and create true equal opportunity in the future.”

Roy Horton on joining Brian Flores’ lawsuit

The addition of these two individuals to the lawsuit is interesting. Wilks claims he was hired by Arizona to be a mere “bridge coach” at the same time that his “white GM” was given a contract extension after being convicted on DUI charges.

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Horton’s inclusion stems from him being given an opportunity to interview for the Tennessee Titans’ head coach opening in 2015. Lawyers conclude that said interview as a “sham”

More coaches join Brian Flores lawsuit: What it means

Brian-Flores-Lawsuit
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It was reported back in March that two more coaches would join the lawsuit. At that time, their names were not known.

While the identities of the coaches aren’t disclosed, with the amended complaint set to be filed on April 8, they are alleging discriminatory bias in the hiring process.

The plaintiffs are also submitting their own claims against team owners over each of the club’s hiring processes but the identities of the team aren’t disclosed publicly.

Sportsnaut report from March 28, 2022

This is what class-action suits are made for. It enables other entities to be added to the lawsuit. That’s the case here.

“It is an honor to represent three admired and successful coaches who, by becoming named plaintiffs in this race class action, have demonstrated great courage to stand up against the NFL.

While the NFL may hire outside consultants, make minor rule changes, and pander to various interest groups, real and enduring change can only be accomplished through the appointment of a court ordered monitor as the NFL has demonstrated time and time again that it is incapable of policing itself.”

Statement from Flores’ lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis to Sportsnaut on Brian Flores lawsuit

It’s not yet known if more individuals will be added to the class-action suit. But for now, these latest claims don’t paint the NFL and its teams in the best of lights. The more entities that are added to the Brian Flores lawsuit, the more damning information that promises to come out.