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Feb. 2—Lawyer up
So Brian Flores is suing the NFL because the Rooney Rule is a farce.
Loads to unpack in this one, friends, and we must do it delicately.
First, that Flores is suing for discrimination after getting a shot as an NFL head coach seems head-scratchingly ironic.
Second, Flores will surely need to win this or settle out of court or plan on saving whatever he's earned, because it's hard to see an NFL team hiring him now, right?
Third, his lawsuit directly names the Giants, Dolphins and Broncos as having racist hiring practices and references different incidents as examples. Again, the irony here is striking because the most damage this suit will inflict will be with the Dolphins. More on that in a moment.
One of the examples Flores' suit references was a congratulatory text message Flores received from Bill Belichick that was supposed to be sent to Brian Daboll, the former Bills OC who was named as the Giants head coach.
But Belichick sent it to Flores, who said he received the congratulatory message to Daboll before Flores, who was a reported finalist for the Giants job, had even interviewed with the Giants.
(Side question: Would it be the ultimate, SpyGate level of devilishness if Belichick sent that message on purpose to completely wreck the apple cart of an AFC East rival? Discuss.)
And make no mistake, Flores' allegations here could very well bring down an NFL owner. And amazingly, the allegations are out in front of everyone as accepted knowledge. Now they are just headed to court.
First, the Rooney Rule is laughable and broken. Its intentions were grand, but we're in a place now that if Bill Belichick left the Pats or John Harbaugh left the Ravens or if John Madden rose from the dead, any NFL team that wanted to hire one of those NFL Hall of Famers would also have to schedule a sitdown with Tee Martin or Byron Leftwich to check a box in a dog-and-pony show.
Who does that help? No one. In fact, it only perpetuates the problem — for both sides.
Second, Miami is going to be in hot water, too, because Flores is alleging that owner Stephen Ross promised bonuses for losing and when Flores' team won games rather than tanking them, it was the beginning of the end of the coach's time on South Beach.
What? There's tanking in professional sports? The heck you say.
Now, the wink-wink, draft-draft knowledge of unabashed tanking is no one's secret. Still, those kinds of directives from on high and bonuses being paid for losses undermine the credibility of sport on its face.
And the NFL simply can't have that — especially when there is a 10-figure industry called sports gambling that is now legal in 33 U.S. states.
As for the particulars in Flores' suit, well, there's a lot of lightning rod language including his assertion that the NFL is managed "much like a plantation," which is somewhat peculiar since the plantations never gave six-, seven- or eight-figure contracts to the help.
Here's a passage from the lawsuit: "In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation. Its 32 owners — none of whom are Black — profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% of whom are Black. The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars."
Serious issue for the league, Ross
At a time when its greatest champion retired and on the heels of the most-watched non-Super Bowl events in recent memory, the NFL brass must be in full-blown crisis mode.
(Side note: The TV numbers were through the roof for the conference championship games. Bengals-Chiefs was the highest-rated conference championship game in three years with an average rating of 23.6 and a peak audience close to 61 million. And the Rams-49ers game had a bigger audience, averaging 50.42 million viewers. The NFC title game ranks as one of just 11 non-Super Bowl broadcasts to top the 50 million mark since the series finale of "Seinfeld" in 1998. If you're curious, 10 of those 11 shows to top 50 million are NFL conference title games. The other? Read down to the 'This and That' for the answer.)
Here are some of the demands — other than financial of course — that Flores' suit calls for:
— Ensure diversity of ownership by creating and funding a committee dedicated to sourcing Black investors to take majority ownership stakes in NFL teams.
— Ensure diversity of decision-making by permitting select Black players and coaches to participate in the interviewing process.
— Require NFL teams to reduce to writing the rationale for hiring and termination decisions, including a full examination of the basis for any subjective influences (e.g., trust, personality, interview performance, etc.); require NFL teams to consider side-by-side comparisons of objective criteria, such as past performance, experience and objective qualifications.
— Incentivize the hiring and retention through monetary, draft and/or other compensation such as additional salary cap space."
This one will not be handled by changing the distance of the extra point, Roger.
And in truth, it could very well cost Steve Ross his majority ownership stake in the Dolphins.
Debate the merits of that all you want, but it certainly will be discussed.
Want to know something else that will be interesting as all get out to follow?
The Denver Broncos are now officially on the selling block, and gang, the internal whispers in the league office will be loud behind closed doors to find a way to fill a dichotic term and have a minority-majority owner.
Lighter NFL story
Wow, that's some stuff, right? Some heavy stuff.
And it's lengthy, so with that, let's look at an SI story this morning on the web.
The writer who was co-author with Al Michaels on a book about the legendary broadcaster goes over how this Super Bowl is likely Al Michaels' final game for NBC and could be his last game on traditional TV.
Wow, talk about a void. If Michaels leaves TV — he likely will be the lead voice for Amazon or some other streaming service — who is the best play-by-play guy out there?
Somewhere, Jim Nantz is ordering an extra helping of burnt white toast to celebrate.
This and that
— Man, we are something you know it? Take this as example 12,050,122 on the divide and political veer of everything. New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujás suffered a stroke on Tuesday, and the lead headline on Yahoo.com was not about his health or his status, but rather how it impacts the Democrats' slim 50-50 majority in the U.S. Senate.
— You go Caitlin Clark. The Iowa sophomore just wrapped a historic month in which she averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 9.1 assists in her team's 10 January games. Wow.
— You know the rules. Here's TFP sports editor and prep poobah Stephen Hargis on a couple of Baylor School juniors who rank among the area's top football prospects for 2023.
— You know the rules, part II. Here's Paschall on the diminishing impact of the traditional signing day. Which is today, and which now has the same amount of activity as the Alexian Field Day during afternoon nap time after a turkey-and-dressing lunch.
— In today's age of neck-turning, click-baiting world of interweb headlines, where does this one rank? "Johnny Manziel's Ex-Wife Is Pregnant with Nick Cannon's 8th Child, Is Baby Mama No. 5!" from Clay Travis' Outkick.com site.
— The series finale of "Friends" had 52.5 million viewers in 2004 and ranks the only other non NFL broadcast since 1998 to average 50-plus million viewers, according to SportsMediaWatch.com.
— So the Washington Football Team is now the Washington Commanders? Should have stayed with the Football Team to be honest.
— Whoop-si. So Whoopi Goldberg stepped in it with comments about the Holocaust. Seems like the standards for socially insensitive/hateful comments are a sliding scale that is impossible to gauge. So it goes. And in truth, I'm glad Whoopi did not get canceled for her comments, because I don't want anyone to be canceled because of verbal mistakes like that. Spy, you gonna be OK without Whoopi on "The View" for the next couple of weeks?
Happy Groundhog Day friends. Celebrate. Tastes like chicken.
Which way Wednesday starts with a monster.
Which athlete accomplished more in their field, Tom Brady, MJ or Tiger?
Which detail from the Flores suit surprises you most?
Which word would you use to describe "Commanders" as the nickname for Washington?
Which Whoopi movie was the best? And for the one that will be tougher, which Whoopi movie was the worst?
As for today, it's 2/2/22, and some of you know I wore No. 22 in my playing days. Good times.
Rushmore of 22. Go.