“Really complicated issue”: Former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen gives thoughts on Brian Flores NFL lawsuit

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Football League and three of its teams
Jamie Boll talked to former Panthers great Greg Olsen about it. He’s currently an NFL analyst for Fox Sports.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 10:11 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you have a complaint about your workplace, one of the places to turn is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The federal agency took in 67,448 complaints in 2020.

About one-third of those cases were based on racial discrimination. Another third was based on sexual discrimination. History tells us most of these cases won’t go anywhere. They’ll be closed without concluding discrimination occurred.

Only about 18 percent result in assistance. That’s usually in the form of money or improved working conditions. In race-based claims, it’s even lower. Just 15 percent.

This week, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores took another tact. He filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Football League and three of its teams. He’s accusing them of racial discrimination. Seventy percent of NFL players are Black, but there is currently only one Black coach. Flores appeared on CBS This Morning.

“We didn’t have to file a lawsuit for the world to know that there’s a problem from a hiring standpoint in regards to minority coaches in the National Football League. The numbers speak for themselves. We filed the lawsuit so that we could create some change. And that’s important to me,” he said, “I think we are at a fork in the road. We are either going to keep it the way it is or go in another direction and actually make some real change in where we are actually changing the hearts and minds of those who make decisions to hire head coaches, executives, etc.”

The NFL says the claims are without merit. The NY Giants and Dolphins, two of the teams involved, also deny the charges.

Former Panthers head coach and current Washington Commanders coach, Ron Rivera was also on CBS This Morning. He was asked if he was surprised by the lawsuit.

“You know when you look at a guy like Brian and what he’s accomplished and what he’s done, there’s a lot of merit there,” he said, “Those are the types of things that people should be judged on and be based on. I think that if we really take a step back and look at it, we would honestly say there are some things we have to look even deeper into and we’ve got to make sure we make the right type of changes so that things are inclusive. That we are doing the things that are right for us.”

Jamie Boll talked to former Panthers great Greg Olsen about it. He’s currently an NFL analyst for Fox Sports.

Greg: It’s a pretty strong allegation, obviously. It’s gonna be interesting how it plays out. What the answer is, I sure don’t have the answer, right? The answer is, you’d hope that the pie in the sky fantasy land is everyone operates from the standard of we’re just going to hire the best people, regardless of background, regardless of race, regardless of whatever it is, because the idea and the ultimate goal is to win. Now, is that the reality? It’s probably naive to think that all 32 teams operate in that capacity. That’s why I think it’s a really complicated issue. But you know, you hear some of the allegations of Flores, and I think they’re going to take them seriously and exactly what comes out of it as far as to alter the situation, I don’t know.

Jamie: The firing did seem surprising at the time to a lot of people, right?

Greg: It did. I mean, obviously, when you look at his record on paper in the first two years, he won a lot of games. I think there’s always, like anything, there’s always stories underneath. There’s the relationship with Tua. Did the owner want him to tank and he said no? Which, I don’t blame him. If I was Flores, I ain’t doing that either. So there’s always, again, personal relationships and personal interactions are always at the root of all this. This is still a people game. This is still a people industry, and you’re never going to remove that.

Jamie: You mentioned the media conversation around this. What was it like in the locker room? Did the players look around and say, ‘You know what, this coaching staff doesn’t look like this locker room’?

Greg: Not when I’ve been around it. I never heard that openly discussed or openly questioned or criticized. You look around to most coaching staffs and I think they’re pretty well represented across the board. Do certain positions tend to gravitate towards certain races and certain groups? Absolutely. It’d be naive to not think that’s the case. Is that because certain running back coaches happen to play running back and there’s not a lot of white guys playing running back? Sure, right? I think there are a lot of reasons behind why certain paths lead to certain paths. But no, I don’t ever recall sitting in a locker room where that was a high point of contention.

Jamie: Do you think change will come as a result of this?

Greg: Yeah, I mean, I just don’t know what that looks like. What rules do you put in place to alter human behavior? Do you make all these teams sell and bring in new owners? That’s not reasonable. So, I don’t know what the solution is. To identify the problem is step one. And I respect Flores in that regard. I just don’t personally know what the answer is. And I think if anyone else knew the answer, they would have done it 10 years ago. That’s the struggle that we’re in.

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