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Brian Flores' Lawyer: Roger Goodell Arbitrating NFL Lawsuit Would Be 'Unconscionable'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 2, 2022

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

An attorney for Brian Flores argued NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would not be a fair arbitrator in the lawsuit against the league alleging racist hiring practices, via ESPN.

Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL and its 32 teams in February after he was fired by the Miami Dolphins, with former coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton later joining the suit. After the initial filing, the NFL released a statement claiming the charges were "without merit."

Attorney Douglas Wigdor argued at a federal hearing in Manhattan on Monday that this statement showed an "unconscionable bias of the arbitrator." Goodell also earned $120 million from the league over the past two years, preventing him from ruling fairly.

Wigdor believes using the arbitration process instead of a public court would be the league pushing the claims "behind closed doors."

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is representing the NFL in this case, argued the terms of the employment agreement with each coach means the case can only continue through arbitration.

Flores was fired after going 24-25 across three seasons with the Dolphins, but he claimed in the initial lawsuit that team owner Stephen Ross offered bonuses for losing games during his first season.

The coach also said he had a "sham" interview with the New York Giants after the team had already decided to hire Brian Daboll. Flores said another sham interview occurred in 2019 with the Denver Broncos, with the executives allegedly unprofessional for their meeting.

Wilks joined the lawsuit after he was fired by the Arizona Cardinals following just one season in the role and replaced by Kliff Kingsbury. Horton claimed the Tennessee Titans violated the Rooney Rule by interviewing him for the head coaching position after already intending to hire Mike Mularkey.

The individual teams have denied the claims, although the NFL released a memo stating that the team's diversity efforts "have been unacceptable."

Lynch invited the three coaches and the lawyers to discuss these "important issues," but Wigdor rejected the invitation because no judge would be present.      

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