The Rooney Rule today stipulates that NFL teams must interview two ethnic-minority candidates when hiring head coaches. At the time of Flores’ interview with the Broncos — noted to have been with then-general manager John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others — the rule mandated one minority candidate be interviewed. The Broncos fired Vance Joseph following the 2018 season, and interviewed five candidates to replace him: Mike Munchak, Vic Fangio, Chuck Pagano, Zac Taylor and Flores.
Flores was the only Black candidate interviewed. Fangio got the job and Munchak received a position on his staff. Pagano took a role with the Bears and Taylor became the Cincinnati Bengals’ head coach. Flores was hired by the Miami Dolphins as head coach.
Flores filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL alleging racism in hiring. The lawsuit names the NFL, Giants, Dolphins and Broncos, specifically, and the other 29 teams referred to as “John Doe Teams.”
Here is his accusation against Denver in the class action complaint:
Incredibly, this was not Mr. Flores’ first sham interview that was held only in an effort to comply with the Rooney Rule. Indeed, in 2019 Mr. Flores was scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos’ then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.
Ellis has been acting as the Broncos’ de facto owner since late owner Pat Bowlen stepped down in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s. Elway has been a member of the team’s front office since 2011. The franchise is now for sale and both Ellis and Elway have contracts that are scheduled to expire this offseason.
Flores spent three seasons in Miami before getting fired in January. Denver also fired Fangio in January and hired Nathaniel Hackett to replace him. Flores was not among the 10 candidates the Broncos interviewed to replace Fangio this offseason.