NFL Asks Court To Force Brian Flores' Lawsuit To Arbitration

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Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant Brian Flores, right, watches as the team goes through drills during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant Brian Flores, right, watches as the team goes through drills during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

The NFL is taking another shot at getting a lawsuit from one of its former head coaches moved from open court and into private arbitration.

This time, that lawsuit is the racial discrimination class action claim filed in February by current Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant and former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. The Athletic first reported late Tuesday that the league, as it previously indicated, filed a petition asking a federal judge in New York to rule that the case must be heard by an arbitrator, not in front of a judge or jury.

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Flores’ suit was joined in March by two other Black NFL coaches, former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton, all of whom claim that the NFL had conducted sham interviews with them for head coaching roles under its Rooney Rule, which is supposed to increase opportunity for nonwhite coaches to ascend to top jobs.

The league, through former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is one of its defense attorneys in the case, argued in a hearing in May that all three coaches’ employment agreements with their former teams required their claims to be heard by an arbitrator. The plaintiffs’ attorney flatly rejected that idea, noting that the arbitrator would likely be none other than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who had already demonstrated an “unconscionable bias” and who collected a bag worth about $120 million over the past two years from the same NFL owners named in the lawsuit.

But in Tuesday’s filing, the NFL didn’t bother to bring up the fact that last month, it lost an attempt to force another lawsuit filed by former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden into arbitration.