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The Margin: Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to represent NFL in racial discrimination lawsuit

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will defend the National Football League in the racial discrimination lawsuit brought on by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

Lynch was the first Black female attorney general in U.S. history, and she ran the Justice Department during part of the Obama administration. She will work with Brad Karp, the chairman at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, who previously represented the NFL in concussion cases.

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Earlier this month, Flores, who is Black, sued the NFL and three teams — including the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants — alleging racial discrimination in the hiring process for their head coaching positions. He is reportedly adding the Houston Texans to the suit, as well.

Flores’s lawsuit chides the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which mandates that NFL teams conduct at least one in-person interview with a minority candidate for all head coaching positions.

“However, well intentioned or not, what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit recounts an instance during the New York Giants head coaching hiring process, in particular. It provides screenshots of text messages said to have been sent by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to Flores, which mistakenly congratulated him for getting the Giants coaching job. Flores, a Brooklyn native who played collegiately at Boston College, had not even interviewed for the Giants job yet. He was expecting to meet with club management in the coming days.

Other texts indicated that Belichick meant to send his messages to Brian Daboll, not Brian Flores. Assuming the screenshots are accurate, it would indicate that the Giants had already made a decision to make Daboll, who is white, their next head coach, before even interviewing Flores. Flores’s attorneys called this a “humiliating act of alleged racism.”

Currently there is only one Black coach in the NFL: Mike Tomlin on the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are 32 teams in the league.

​”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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement after the lawsuit emerged. “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 Associated Press contributed to this report.

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