On Thursday, we learned that former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and longtime NFL assistant Ray Horton were joining Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL and multiple franchises alleging racial discrimination in their hiring practices for head coaches.
Wilks is accusing the Cardinals of using him as a “bridge coach” before firing him after one season in order to hire Kliff Kingsbury instead.
Meanwhile, Horton is alleging that the Tennessee Titans did a sham interview with him in 2015 when hiring a new head coach in order to appease the Rooney Rule. To back that up, Mike Mularkey, who was eventually hired instead, claimed in a 2020 podcast interview that he was told by one of the Titans owners that he was going to get the job while they were still interviewing two minority candidates.
While none of the new allegations were surprising to many who have been paying attention to NFL head coach hiring over the last few decades, it’s rare to get a smoking gun like that from a white coach who was hired. And it’s the kind of thing that could really come back to bite the NFL and teams involved in the lawsuit if a judge believes it represents exactly the kind of discrimination that Flores, Wilks, and Horton are claiming.
Meanwhile, the news of fresh allegations and two new additions to the lawsuit got a lot of people around the NFL world talking, especially about the Mularkey quote and what it could mean.
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) April 7, 2022
This is big: Ray Horton alleges the #Titans conducted a sham interview with him in 2016. They hired Mike Mularkey.
Horton's proof: Mularkey did a podcast and said he was told the job is his before anyone else got an interview.
Here's the audio of Mularkey… and it's damning: pic.twitter.com/tRQsxjZVq3
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) April 7, 2022
The Mike Mularkey statements about being told he had the head coaching job and GM Jon Robinson didn’t know why he was interviewing Mularkey because he had the job — all while the #Titans were still going through minority interviews — is a potentially massive dagger for the #NFL.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) April 7, 2022
wild that the Mike Mularkey comments – that he knew Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk was giving him the HC title in 2016 before Horton and others were even interviewed – have been sitting out in the world for 18 months and very few of us knew before today
— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) April 7, 2022
NFL really thought it was only gonna be Brian Flores bringing the lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/xf2qpmaB3h
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) April 7, 2022
Brian Flores is all in. He's committed. He's fearless. These are qualities that one might look for in a head coach, except the NFL is too awash in corporate racism to see it. https://t.co/bu9Kb7UC5y
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) April 7, 2022