Brian Flores lawsuit: Mike Mullarkey said the quiet part out loud but is the NFL really ready to listen?

There doesn’t seem to be much room for middle ground, or explanation, in Mike Mullarkey’s account of his rise from interim manager of the Tennessee Titans to the permanent role in 2016. It’s hard to say what Mullarkey would gain by lying about the process, or what motive he would have to do so. .

Molarkey’s words, seemingly sincere from the heart as he showed his apprehension and regret about playing a key role in the search for training that Mollarkey asserted was orchestrated to break the Rooney rule, pushed Brian Flores’ discrimination lawsuit against the NFL to the fore once again. The NFL managers are blown away after longtime coordinator Ray Horton — the paintball coach who interviewed the Titans in 2016 — added his name to the suit, along with former Cardinals coach Steve Wilkes.

Team bosses, general managers, and coaches question the strength of the NFL’s investigation into these allegations. They go back to other internship searches over the past decade or so and wonder if others will step forward who think their interviews were a hoax, just ticking the box. According to several sources in the league, the NFL itself has in recent months contacted outside consultants and operations that act as employees of sorts — entities that evaluate and rank employment benefits in a coaching perspective — to extract their data over a period in at least 10 years. One might assume that these initiatives are part of an effort to try to discern whether or not color coaches are being properly considered, and whether teams in some cases appear to be behaving in a predetermined way.

Regardless of what happens next, this is another ugly attitude of these owners regarding the issue of inclusion and diversity. Mullarkey’s words on his 2020 podcast, which he described as a “mock recruitment process” where minority candidates had “no chance of getting the job,” felt to many coaches in this league as if they were saying the quiet part out loud. The Titans released a statement denying that this was an inside job, and that Mullarkey had not been notified that he would be hired before meeting anyone else, which is impossible to reconcile with the coach’s portrayal of events. Several sources across the league have confirmed their belief that more coaches will join this lawsuit in the off-season.

“There are a lot of people in this league (shitting) in their clothes right now,” said a senior official on one successful NFL team. “Think about how many times it seemed like someone was hired and had no real chance of getting that job? Did the Raiders actually hire anyone other than (John) Gruden? I don’t know how hard it is to investigate the league, but we can’t pretend that These things don’t happen.”

The truth is, when that happens, it always seems to be the white coach. Favoritism is a disease that is difficult to treat, and with NFL decision makers, diversity tends to be more of a goal than an actual outcome. If Mullarkey truly regretted and shamed the way things turned out in 2016, one might assume he would be open to collaborating with attorneys from the league and/or the lawsuit. “It was the wrong thing to do, and I’m sorry I did,” Mularkey said. Steelers Realm Podcast two years ago. Whatever evidence there is for Molarkey’s claims in any way is unknown at this time, but this is far from the last we hear about.

When Mullarkey was fired in 2018, the Giants search ended in five days, including three interviews, to replace him. Wilkes, who would go on to get the cardinal job (to be fired after only one season in which the general manager hired too many of his staff) was interviewed on the same day with Mike Frabel, who was quickly hired. Frabel and general manager John Robinson worked with the Patriots. “You can see they’ve been in touch right away from the history that ties them together,” owner Amy Adams Strink said of Frabel and Robinson upon appointment.

Meanwhile, Lions general manager Bob Quinn hired longtime Patriots assistant Matt Patricia to be its head coach, and to no one in league circles, after the dismissal of Jim Caldwell despite being one of the most successful coaches in franchise history. Quinn and Patricia had a close time together in New England. The Lions interviewed “insider” candidate Terrell Austin, who joined the Bengals as defensive coordinator by the time Patricia was officially hired – itself a possible indication of where he saw the Lions’ career – and the Lions also spoke with the Packers assistant since Long Winston Moss for the opening.

None of this means, of course, that the surface was stacked. But optics, especially now, may not be perfect.

The NFL already looked into whether the Raiders violated Rooney’s rule in hiring Gruden in 2018, when he was awarded a $100 million contract to redefine the 10-year industry to exit the broadcast booth. They did not find any error. Owner Mark Davis, whose family has had an excellent track record on diversity issues in hiring for generations, also spoke with T Martin, the USC offensive coordinator (now the Ravens’ receiving coach) and their tight coach at the time, Bobby Johnson (now the Giants offensive line coach), To comply with the Rooney rule.

Did anyone think then, or now, that any of these individuals were on the verge of becoming the next Raiders boss? This wasn’t a job Gruden had to interview; Davis has been following him for years, and if he can agree to get him to take the job, that’s his job. Is that a mistake? Is this unfair? Should Davis have that right?

Are some of these training outcomes predetermined, or predetermined that prevent something unexpected from happening to fall off the negotiating table? Definitely. Are there agreements and things done outside the network that got such deals going before anyone knew about it? definitely. Especially when a sought-after candidate is in the college ranks, in broadcasting, or outside the NFL in some capacity. Is this inconsistent with what is espoused by Rooney’s law? How not?

Where are the lines intersecting or blurred? What are the forces willing to dig? What can be proven? How do you control intention? There are no easy answers, but hopefully Roger Goodell below will ask the right questions, while being whispered in executive offices across the league.