The Miami Dolphins have a problem. As of right now, it is a perception and public opinion problem. It could become much more serious if allegations coming from former head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants are proven to be true.
A lot of Flores’ allegations are that the league discriminates against minority coaching candidates in their hiring process and that the teams will interview a minority simply so they can say they met the Rooney Rule requirements - interviewing minorities for open upper-level positions in coaching and the fronr office - the league has. He alleges the Broncos and the Giants both conducted “sham” interviews of Flores with no intention of ever hiring him. The Broncos interviewed Flores in 2019, then hired Vic Fangio for their vacant head coaching position. The Giants hired Brian Daboll this offseason, having interviewed Flores for the job.
Flores alleges the Giants had already decided to hire new head coach and former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for the job when they interviewed Flores. In the lawsuit, Flores explains New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sent a congratulatory text message to Flores about getting the Giants position. Flores had yet to interview when he received that text message and Belichick sent a subsequent text saying he was incorrect and it was Daboll who was being hired.
When it comes to the Dolphins, there are some allegations related to race in the lawsuit, specifically for leaks in which the “Dolphins brass” labeled Flores as “someone who was difficult to work with.” The lawsuit adds, “This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes.”
There are also two football competition issues that could come back to crush the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross. Flores alleges in 2019 Ross offered him “$100,000 for every loss” the team sustained over the course of the season as they attempted to “‘tank’ for the first pick in the draft.”
Flores also alleges that Ross, after the 2019 season ended and before the 2020 free agency market opened, pressured the coach to meet with a “prominent quarterback” who was scheduled to reach free agency. The idea of this meeting was to recruit the unnamed quarterback (assumed to be Tom Brady) to Miami when free agency began. Flores “repeatedly refused to comply with these improper directives” that would go against the league’s tampering rules. According to the lawsuit, the attempts to get Flores to meet with the quarterback went so far as Ross inviting Flores to have lunch on the owner’s yacht, with the quarterback “‘conveniently’ arriving at the marina.” Flores left this attempted meeting “set up.”
The lawsuit continues to state that after refusing to lose games on purpose and refusing to meet with the quarterback, Flores was “ostracized” and “treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.”
If Flores can prove these two on-field, competitive issues that he has alleged, the Dolphins and Ross could be facing serious punishment from the league. The other allegations will be handled in court, but the competitive balance problems will also need to be addressed by the NFL and could be harsh. Ross could be in danger of losing the team if the league deems these issues true and serious enough. The Dolphins could also be in danger of losing draft picks, serious fines, or other punishments as determined by the league.
Of note, the Dolphins already have a contractual succession plan approved by the league, where Bruce Beal, the President of Ross’ Related Companies, would have first right of refusal to purchase the team whenever Ross sells.
Where do the Dolphins go from here? What will be the future of the team and the repercussions from these allegations? The NFL will have to investigate and make a determination on how serious, and how true, all of this is. Could this lead to the selling of the Dolphins? If everything Flores has alleged is true with regards to Ross and his activities, it seems like a situation where the league may have no choice but to force Ross out of the owners club.