The National Football League has tapped a Black female attorney to defend itself in a high-profile racial discrimination lawsuit brought by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration, will represent the NFL.
Lynch, a partner at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, is working with the firm’s chairman Brad Karp on the litigation, sources told Bloomberg.
Flores filed a class-action lawsuit on Feb. 1 against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the Miami Dolphins, claiming racial discrimination in the league’s hiring process toward coaches and executives.
There are just two Black coaches on the 32 NFL teams and just three Black general managers. Meanwhile, 70 percent of NFL players are Black. Flores led the Miami Dolphins to two back-to-back winning seasons before he was fired.
In his lawsuit, Flores accused the New York Giants of interviewing him for their vacant head coach job under “sham” circumstances. Three days before the interview, Flores received a congratulatory text message from one of his old bosses in New England that was intended for Brian Daboll. Daboll got the Giants coaching job.
To some, the NFL’s hiring of Lynch is reminiscent of the organization’s 2019 partnership with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment company to produce the Super Bowl’s halftime shows. At the time, the NFL was facing backlash for blackballing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his silent kneeling protests during the National Anthem to protest police brutality against Black people in the U.S.
By hiring a Black-owned firm such as Roc-Nation, the NFL hoped to lessen the backlash, observers said. For his part, Jay-Z came out in support of the NFL and was seen making nice with the NFL higher-ups and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Meek Mill even bought billionaire New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a new Bentley for his 80th birthday.
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Many spoke out on Twitter.
“NFL hires Black woman to defend it against racism,” tweeted Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr), longtime Dallas Cowboys beat reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“Come on, wow @NFL really ?? You really choose a Black women to defend y’all ?? How crazy is that ?? You know somethings up the @nfl owners hired a black attorney faster then they hired a Black coach,” tweeted yolo (@amclendonove_nsilence).
Others wonder why Lynch accepted the case.
“Why would she take the case is my question?” asked Patrick Gathron (@PatrickGathron).
The irony of the Lynch hire by the NFL, who often claims it can’t find qualified Black executive talent, was not lost on some.
“Well, look who can suddenly find qualified Black candidates,” tweeted David Steele (@David_C_Steele), co-author of “Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith” about the Black Olympian who raised his fist in a Black power gesture during the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Photos: Attorney General Loretta Lynch is interviewed by the AP at University of Baltimore School of Law, Jan. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) / JAY-Z at a screening of “The Harder They Fall,” Oct. 13, 2021 in LA. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)