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Whitlock: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made the mistake of caring more about Brian Flores’ success than Flores and black players did

Op-ed
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Black NFL players have made it quite clear they want to inspire change on behalf of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake, Rayshard Brooks, and other high-profile victims of alleged white criminal misconduct.

Black football players enthusiastically appointed themselves experts on criminal justice reform, systemic racism, housing discrimination, and pay inequality.

During televised commercial breaks, current NFL players preach about “where they’re from” and how people who look like them are over-policed and over-incarcerated and will earn $10,000 less than their white counterparts.

That’s why I expect the next batch of “inspire change” commercials to feature former Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Surely the courageous freedom fighters speaking on behalf of George Floyd will lift their voices in support of Brian “Harriet Tubman” Flores.

As qualified as football players are to speak on local policing issues, it pales in comparison to what they know about coaching football. As the New York Times, ESPN, and Flores’ white attorneys have repeatedly pointed out, 70% of NFL players are black. These black players are eyewitnesses to the racism endured by Flores and countless black assistant coaches.

If they’re willing to take a knee for George Floyd, I’m sure black Dolphins players would be more than happy to support Flores’ lawsuit.

And this is my problem with the Brian Flores controversy and the repeated allegations that NFL owners refuse to hire black head coaches. NFL owners will do pretty much anything the players demand they do. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took a knee during the national anthem because the players demanded he do so. Jones’ billionaire peers across the league did the same thing.

The players control the league. The players forced the owners to hand over nearly $100 million to finance the “Players Coalition,” a vanity project for current and former players to build social media brands as social justice warriors.

If NFL players wanted more black head coaches, more black offensive coordinators, they would demand it and it would happen overnight.

Players create the hype and buzz around assistant coaches. When a talented and charismatic assistant coach reveals himself on a staff, it’s the players who start gossiping about his impact, his ability to connect, and his relentless work ethic.

Brian Flores doesn’t need a lawsuit to get a head coaching job. He needs the support of black NFL players. The same is true for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

But black people have been taught to prefer the charity of white people over the support of their own. This preference for charity played a role in Flores getting fired. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross figured out that Flores isn’t ruthless enough to win at the highest level.

If you believe Flores’ narrative, Ross tried to forge an alliance between Flores and an established NFL quarterback. Multiple outlets have reported that the established quarterback was Tom Brady. Ross is a Michigan grad and one of the school’s top boosters. Ross has known Brady for years.

Flores refused the meeting because it would violate the NFL’s tampering policy. Flores’ refusal violated common sense. Flores reportedly did not like Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa. Ross was offering Flores a solution, a path to a proven franchise quarterback. Ross was trying to put his head coach in position to win immediately.

That wasn’t racism. Ross was bending the rules to favor his black head coach. Proving again that no good deed goes unpunished.
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