The NFL has hired former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to head its legal team in the Brian Flores race bias class-action suit.
“Lynch, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, is working with the law firm’s chairman Brad Karp on the litigation, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The Dolphins, also named as a defendant in the Flores case, and their real estate billionaire owner Stephen Ross have turned to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan litigator William Burck.”Bloomberg report (February 16, 2022)
Talk about going big-game hunting in what could end up being one of the most-explosive lawsuits ever filed against the NFL.
It was earlier this month that Flores filed the class-action suit in the United States District Court of Southern New York, claiming systemic racism in the interview process for NFL head coaches and general managers.
Flores’ suit came after he was fired by the Miami Dolphins following two winning seasons. He was also passed up for the New York Giants’ head-coach job after they allegedly conducted an interview knowing full well that Brian Daboll would end up getting the job.
Related: Miami Dolphins’ Stephen Ross responds to Brian Flores’ allegations
NFL hires a big hitter in Loretta Lynch
The 62-year-old Lynch has served in numerous roles for presidents of both parties since starting her legal career decades ago. Most recently, she served as the 83rd United States Attorney General under former President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, Loretta Lynch was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
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There’s an obvious connection here in that she served in the same district that Flores filed his class-action suit in earlier this month. Obviously, the NFL knows what it’s doing.
Lynch has also worked for the NFL in the past, acting as a part of the investigating team looking into workplace misconduct allegations against the Washington Commanders.
Related: Why the Brian Flores lawsuit is just the start of exposing the NFL’s broken hiring practices
What the Loretta Lynch hiring means
As for Lynch’s presence and the Flores’ lawsuit, there’s a ton of dynamics to look at. First off, the NFL won’t want discovery becoming public record. It would likely paint the league in a bad light, leading to some questionable optics for an entity that’s all about public relations.
It could be similar to the since-settled lawsuit filed by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick claiming collusion on the part of the NFL and its teams. That is to say, settling it out of court as a way to prevent findings becoming public record.
Flores’ lawsuit is wide in scope and could include more plaintiffs coming forward given the wording of the suit itself.
“NFL remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers. Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organizations (the “Teams”) have been given every chance to do the right thing,” the suit read. “Rules have been implemented, promises made—but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL’s disingenuous commitment to social equity.”Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL (February 1, 2022)
As for the league, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has since admitted that there’s some flaws within the interview process.
“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote. “We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable.”
There’s a lot that can happen between now and the suit being heard in court. However, the hiring of Lynch suggests that the NFL plans to do everything in its power to either fight the case in order or settle with Flores before findings become public record.