JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bombshell lawsuit filed against the NFL could impact the Jaguars’ search for a new coach.
Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three teams on Tuesday over alleged racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers.
The lawsuit alleges that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers.
Right now, of the 32 teams, there is only one Black head coach, seven Black general managers and no Black owners in the NFL. Roughly 70% of players are Black.
“The numbers speak for themselves as far as the hiring, firing of opportunities for minority, Black head coaches in the National Football League. We need things to change,” Flores told CNN.
The lawsuit comes as the Jaguars are in the process of interviewing multiple candidates for their head coach. Currently, the only African American candidate that has been reportedly interviewed is Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, a former Jaguars quarterback. If the team goes with Leftwich, that could likely mean they also hire the Arizona Cardinals’ Adrian Wilson as general manager. Leftwich reportedly wants Wilson, who is African American, to be hired along with him to fill that role.
News4JAX spoke with former Jaguars player and current host on 1010XL sports radio Leon Searcy. Searcy doesn’t feel the team should make their decision based on the lawsuit.
“You’re your own entity as far as the corporation, as far as the team goes. You’ve got to ignore the noise, the outside noise. If the Jaguars sincerely want to bring in Byron Leftwich and Wilson, then they should do it,” said Searcy.
If Wilson and Leftwich were to be hired, that would mean, with the Jaguars owner being Shad Khan, who was born in Pakistan, the majority of the team’s leadership would consist of minorities.
“I think it’s historic. You’ve got the minority owner, the minority GM, the minority head coach. I mean that’s real change. That’s real progress,” said Searcy.
One thing Flores’ lawsuit has shined a spotlight on is the Rooney Rule, a league rule that requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching jobs. But with only one Black head coach currently in the NFL, there are critics of the rule — including local sports and entertainment attorney John Phillips, who feels the rule needs tweaking.
“The Rooney Rule is outdated and needs to be changed,” Phillips said. “Interview quotas don’t seem to make a difference when there’s only one African American coach in the league despite turning out the majority of former players and current players.”