John Elway Denies Brian Flores' Allegations Surrounding Broncos Interview in 2019

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 3, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 02: President of football operations John Elway of the Denver Broncos looks on during warm ups prior to the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway issued a statement Thursday denying allegations made against him and members of the front office by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

In a racial discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday against the NFL and its teams, Flores said Elway and others in the front office showed up to a 2019 interview looking "disheveled" and over an hour late.

Elway called the lawsuit "false and defamatory" in his statement, following up a denial issued by the Broncos earlier this week:

"While I was not planning to respond publicly to the false and defamatory claims by Brian Flores, I could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked. I took Coach Flores very seriously as a candidate for our head coaching position in 2019 and enjoyed our three-and-a-half hour interview with him. Along with the rest of our group, I was prepared, ready and fully engaged during the entire interview as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team. It’s unfortunate and shocking to learn for first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him.
"For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong. If I appeared 'disheveled' as he claimed it was because we had flown during middle of night—immediately following another interview in Denver—and were going on a few hours sleep to meet the only window provided. I interviewed Brian in good faith, giving him the same consideration and opportunity as every other candidate for our head coaching position in 2019.”

Flores said Elway and others showed up to the scheduled interview late and obviously hungover, alleging the team only interviewed him to satisfy a Rooney Rule requirement. The Broncos later hired Vic Fangio, who is white. 

“I’ve had nine interviews with NFL clubs,” Flores said in an appearance on ESPN's Get Up. “There was one interview where anyone was late, and that wasn’t me that was late, that was the interviewers who were late, and that was with the Broncos. I think there was a reason why they were late. I think they had been out the night before.

“When you sit at a table with five people who are interviewing you, you can tell who is asking questions, who is into the interview, who is not necessarily in the right state in that moment. But even then, I put my best foot forward and showed why I was a good candidate for that job. I’m always going to do that. But I certainly did not feel like I was taken seriously, and I was just there as a Rooney Rule [candidate].”

The Broncos are one of three teams formally named in the suit, along with the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins.

Flores alleges the Giants brought him in for a "sham" interview when it had already decided to hire Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. A mistaken text sent from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to Flores is the centerpiece of his allegations, with Belichick saying the Giants had settled on Daboll three days before the team interviewed Flores.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Brian Flores says he found out the Giants were hiring Brian Daboll as HC from Bill Belichick’s texts.<br><br>These screenshots were included in Flores’ lawsuit filed Tuesday. <a href="https://t.co/Og8v60q3Kc">pic.twitter.com/Og8v60q3Kc</a>

The Giants hired Daboll within hours of their interview with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Lezlie Frazier, who is Black. The interviews with Frazier and Flores satisfied the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview two external candidates from historically excluded groups for head coaching and front-office positions. Evidence provided by Flores seems to indicate the Giants settled on Daboll, who is white, before ever interviewing either Black candidate.

The lawsuit also made several allegations against the Dolphins, most notably owner Stephen Ross, who Flores said offered him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season. Ross then allegedly became "mad" when Flores ignored the request and began winning games, hurting the team's draft position in the process. 

The NFL, Dolphins, Broncos and Giants have all denied Flores' allegations.