Lawyers say Texans only hired Lovie Smith over Brian Flores because of ex-Dolphins coach’s lawsuit vs. NFL


The Texans on Monday announced the hiring of former Bears and Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, making the former defensive coordinator the fifth minority coach to hold a top NFL job amid the league’s public struggle to diversify staffing. But one of Smith’s competitors for the job, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, doesn’t believe Houston made its decision based on merit. Flores’ attorneys suggested in a statement later Monday that the only reason the Texans hired Smith over Flores is because the latter has a pending lawsuit against the NFL alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices.

“Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores’ goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL,” attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis wrote. “However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL.”

NFL Media reported earlier Monday that Flores had remained a final candidate for the Texans’ vacancy despite his lawsuit, though Smith — who spent 2021 as Houston’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator — only emerged as a known candidate late in the search process. Flores also interviewed for the Saints‘ opening recently, but New Orleans also turned to an internal successor on Monday, reportedly informing defensive coordinator Dennis Allen he would take over for Sean Payton.

The Texans were not directly named as a primary defendant in Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the Broncos, Dolphins, Giants and NFL, which accused teams and the league of unfairly conducting “sham” interviews for minority coaching candidates. But all 32 teams were listed as potential defendants in the case, meaning Houston would’ve still been a potential legal target of Flores even if the team had hired him as its next head coach.

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