Jerry Jones says 'we can do better' in response to Brian Flores' discrimination lawsuit vs. NFL

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A day after the NFL issued a blanket denial of Brian Flores' allegations of racism in league hiring practices, Jerry Jones has a different take:

"We can do better."

The Dallas Cowboys owner responded on Wednesday to Flores' class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams in an interview with USA Today's Jori Epstein.

“I can see it’s an area, one of many, that we can do better,” Jones told Epstein while discussing the league's diversity efforts in hiring. “The area has some good attention. This is obvious if you look through that that the league and coaches are trying to improve there.”

How the NFL responded

Jones' stance that there's room for improvement stands in contrast to a league statement dismissing Flores' claims as "without merit."

"The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations," the NFL statement reads. "Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit."

The league issued that statement within two hours of the lawsuit being made public on Tuesday.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 17:  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones  prior to the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys on October 17, 2021 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.    (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jerry Jones. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Flores made allegations against 3 teams

Flores accuses the league, the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and New York Giants of racism in hiring practices. He accuses Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who hired him in 2019, of offering him $100,000 for every game lost in an effort to tank for the No. 1 draft pick. Flores was fired in January after three seasons, the last two of which produced winning records. He alleges that the team conducted a smear campaign after his dismissal in an effort to paint him as "an angry Black man."

He accuses Broncos president Joe Ellis and then-general manager John Elway of showing up to a 2019 head coaching interview with Flores an hour late and hung over before ultimately hiring Vic Fangio, alleging that his interview was simply an effort to check a box to satisfy the league's Rooney Rule.

He accused the New York Giants of interviewing him this offseason knowing in advance that they intended to hire Brian Daboll. He showed alleged texts from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to support his claim. Like with the Broncos, he accuses the Giants of conducting the interview simply to satisfy the Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and executive positions.

Each of the franchises issued statements denying Flores' allegations.

Jones believes NFL is making a genuine effort

Jones, one of 32 team owners holding the power in a league that Flores alleges is "managed much like a plantation," declined to discuss with Epstein the specific allegations involving his fellow owners and management groups. He believes the league is making a genuine effort to improve its diversity practices.

“I think the fact that it’s an issue shows not only the league’s willingness to address and do better,” Jones continued. “I think the fact that it’s being discussed as to how the Rooney Rule or what drives the Rooney Rule could be better.

"In the case of coach Flores’ complaint, he’s saying it could be better and the processes create positive result for the league.”

Jones has hired eight head coaches since taking ownership of the Cowboys in 1989. All of them — Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells, Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy — are white. According to USA Today, two coordinators of color have worked for Jones — defensive coordinator Brian Stewart (2007-08) and offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon (2003-04).

Jones has had just one general manager — himself.