Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three separate teams on Tuesday alleging racism in the league's hiring process.
Among several allegations against the league, the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos, Flores cited a text exchange with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick revealing New York's plan to hire former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their next head coach before Flores' scheduled interview with the team.
Flores believed the interview was only made in compliance with the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate during a head coaching search.
On Wednesday, Commanders coach Ron Rivera called Flores brave for taking action.
"I think there is something to be looked at there, I really do," Rivera said on CBS Mornings. "I think what Brian is doing is really a brave thing, because in this world, in what we do, we've got to be willing to open up our eyes and really decide on merit.
"You look at a guy like Brian and what he's accomplished and what he's done, there's a lot of merit there, and those are the types of things people should be judged on."
Flores was fired by the Dolphins in a surprising move following the end of the regular season. In three seasons in Miami, Flores won 24 games to go along with two consecutive winning seasons. The Dolphins were unable to make the playoffs in either of those winning seasons, however.
"From my perspective, [Flores] is a very accomplished coach," Rivera told reporters Wednesday. "I can see the frustration, and it's almost as if this is your last resort, because how does a guy like that get left out of the hiring cycle?"
Other allegations from Flores include Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offering to pay him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season. When the Dolphins started winning more games following an 0-7 start, general manager Chris Grier told Flores that Ross was upset that the team's success was compromising Miami's draft position.
"As you look at it, it really is about merit," Rivera said. "Coming from a military family where people were judged on their merit, they were judged on their rank, I just think it's important that we look at these guys that are going through this. I think that Brian is a guy that's frustrated because if you look at his resume and you put it down on the table, you go, 'Wow, this guy has accomplished a lot.' He started from the bottom and worked his way up. Then you look at each phase he did more and more to the point where he was a play-caller on defense.
"When you look at guys like that you think, 'Man, these guys deserve opportunities or chances,' and to me, that's what the Rooney Rule stood for. It was a chance to get your foot in and then let the merit speak for itself. I think that's the issue here. If you took the names off [of resumes], change the teams that they coached for and grew up with and look at all of them on the table, Brian Flores is going to have a resume you're going to point at. [Bills defensive coordinator] Leslie Frazier is a resume you're going to point at, [Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator] Eric Bienemy is a resume you're going to point at. Why? Because of the merit."
Flores also alleges that when he interviewed with the Broncos for their head-coaching job in 2019, then-Denver general manager John Elway and other executives arrived an hour late to the interview and hungover. Since Flores filed his class-action suit, the NFL released a statement discrediting his claims.
Flores remains a candidate for the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints' openings, though it's uncertain what kind of impact his lawsuit will have on future job prospects. Rivera believes the league has taken steps to put more minority candidates in front of teams' top decision-makers. However, there's still work to be done.
"I think the league has tried to bring these types of candidates and put them in front of people that are making the decisions," Rivera said. "I've talked with [NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Troy Vincent, I've talked with [Roger Goodell] and the positive things that he has talked about and trying to implement so we can go forward and bring all people in front of the decision-makers so that the best decisions are being made based off of merit."