You Have a Brian, Use It

In 2003, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for various roles. In his new lawsuit against the NFL (and the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins), Brian Flores alleges discrimination and noncompliance with the Rooney Rule. Among other things, Flores alleges that the Giants had already hired head coach Brian Daboll before interviewing Flores for the job. Flores was tipped off to this by a  misguided text from New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. Belichick, thinking he was texting Brian Daboll, mistakenly congratulated Brian Flores on getting the Giants job.

While the Rooney Rule violation may be the precipitating factor and biggest issue in Flores’ case, other allegations include a similar sham interview with an inebriated or hungover Broncos staff (including John Elway) in 2019 and coaches being paid to lose games for better draft picks in Miami.

Business Takeaway: While people are not necessarily shocked to hear about the various allegations in the lawsuit, the Belichick text exchange provides a potential “smoking gun.” While there is certainly a touch of humor related to this mishap, this case reinforces two themes we frequently encounter: (1) how human failings can create “bad facts” in litigation; and (2) how even large, sophisticated entities frequently “step in it.”