In 2022 U.S. culture adapts about as fast as our fingers can move across our keyboards. Thanks to social media algorithms and personalized streaming platforms, individuals can find unique communities for just about any interest.
It’s our renaissance.
All those sports and “Pokémon” cards you had hidden at your parents’ house are cool again. Comic books and superheroes are mainstream. Creators are changing what it means to be a celebrity, and mindfulness is moving to the forefront of the conversation.
This transitive time has increased the acceptance of our individuality and personal preferences. Yet, one collective pastime can still bring us back together and has even created a culture of its own – American football.
Just take 2021 alone, and the NFL held eight of the top-10 prime-time telecasts. While football in general (the NFL & College Football) held 31 of the top-50, according to Nielsen. Football impacts our food, indulgences, music, fashion, video games, and – maybe above all else – our togetherness.
In “A Football Lifestyle,” a monthly column series for Jeawok.com, I seek to examine and explain the effect The NFL and collegiate game have on modern-day U.S. culture.
With a twist in events, we’ll kick this series off not at Sofi Stadium as the Rams prepare to face “Joe Cool” Burrow and the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. But rather in Miami as Brian Flores continues to prepare for his legal fight against the NFL.
Brian Flores Makes It a Memorable Black History Month, Sues NFL
Brian Flores, who last served as the Miami Dolphins head coach from 2019-2022, filed a 58-page lawsuit against the NFL and three teams for alleged discrimination during his interview process with Denver and the New York Giants, and his firing in Miami, according to ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques.
Flores is a football story himself. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he was one of five sons of Honduran immigrants.
“We spent a lot of time to where maybe we didn’t have a lot of money, but we were rich in love and that’s for sure,” Flores said in his 2019 introductory press conference.
Football would become Flores’ passion and perhaps escape from the harsh reality that can be living in the U.S.’s largest city as a first-generation American in the 1980s and ‘90s. After putting himself on the map at Poly Prep in Brooklyn playing running back and defensive back, Flores attended Boston College where he was a four-time letter winner.
Flores didn’t play in the NFL due to a knee injury but didn’t he wouldn’t let that be the end of his football career. He made his way up the New England Patriots staff, beginning as a scouting assistant in 2004 and ending his tenure there as the linebackers’ coach when they won the 2018 Super Bowl against the Rams 13-3.
In his three seasons as Miami’s head coach, Flores led the Dolphins to a 24-25 record and back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-2003. In the lawsuit, Flores accuses Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of attempting to bribe him to tank, offering him $100,000 per loss.
Most football fans can remember this as the notorious “Tank for Tua [Tagovailoa]” season. Only it became tank for Joe Cool once Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury. However, Flores did the opposite of what Ross wanted him to do – won games – not just in 2019, but in 20220 and 2021, as well.
Flores had a 4-2 record against the division rival New England Patriots and seven-time super bowl champion Bill Belichick during his tenure. He helped re-energize the careers of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and receiver DeVante Parker. He also helped kick-start promising careers for players like Mike Gesicki, Jaylen Waddle and Myles Gaskin. All this with an owner whose goal was not always to win.
And how does Flores get rewarded? By getting an accidental text from Belichick leading up to his interview with the New York Giants, confirming that Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had already been promised the job.
Maybe the worst part of all? This wasn’t the first time he had a sham of an interview. In the lawsuit, Flores accuses former Broncos general manager John Elway and other executives of being an hour late for the interview and hungover upon arriving, implying they drank heavily the night before
Culture Outlook: Time for Change
While the future of this case and Brian Flores’ NFL coaching career are unknown at this time, one thing is for certain – this will serve as another powerful wakeup, not just football, but for the world.
Today, 70 percent of the NFL’s players are black, yet there are now only two black head coaches – Mike Tomlin and Lovie Smith, who was hired by the Houston Texans earlier this week. This means just 6.3 percent of head coaches.
If we want to support players like Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase by learning “The Griddy” and buying their jerseys, we should also demand equal opportunities for coaches and other NFL organizations’ staff members.
Kids grow up more than ever today wanting to be NFL head coaches or general managers as much as they do players because of games like “Madden” and fantasy football. Football has transcended into a game where anyone who’s athletic enough can play. So, why can’t working in football or covering it be for everyone too?
As the fireworks kick off the Super Bowl in Southern California on Sunday to conclude the season, it’s tough not to think of Flores and others just like him who miss out on their dreams coming true because of racial inequity.
But let us hope that this season can now stand as the one where it was no longer normalized or tolerated.