The National Football League has decided to finally strike back against the lawsuit filed by Brian Flores, which was later joined by two other Black coaches, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton.

In a “letter released Thursday in advance of an initial hearing before a Manhattan federal judge, the league said it will either ask that the claims of coach Brian Flores and two other coaches be forced into arbitration or be dismissed without a trial because they lack legal merit,” Associated Press reports.

The NFL’s lawyers said, “Defendants have not discriminated against Plaintiffs (or the Black coaches and general managers they purport to represent) on the basis of their race, nor have Defendants retaliated against Mr. Flores for filing this lawsuit.”

Per the letter, “Mr. Flores himself alleges that he was terminated by the Dolphins for reasons plainly unrelated to his race, including his alleged refusal to intentionally lose games or to violate NFL rules…[the league is] engaged in ongoing efforts to improve diversity among coaches and staff, and would welcome the involvement of Plaintiffs and other Black coaches and executives in those efforts.”

Flores’ attorneys have already issued opposition to the NFL, stating, “We have said from the start that if the NFL wants to create change, the first step is to allow for transparency…The NFL’s attempt to force these claims into arbitration demonstrates an unmistakable desire to avoid any public accountability and ensure that these claims are litigated behind closed doors in a forum stacked against our clients…We will fight this request in court, but Mr. Goodell should have done the right thing, disclaimed arbitration altogether and allowed this case to be tried before a jury representing a cross-section of the community, just like those who watch football.”

The defendant’s attorneys have also alleged that the NFL previously rejected a proposal which would involve using a mediator and including a neutral third party, which would include “retired federal judges and members of the legal and civil rights community.”

While the world awaits next steps in this case, a quote from a Vox article encapsulates the crux of the issue, “[w]hether the lawsuit proves in a court of law that racism exists within the NFL’s hiring practices may be irrelevant in the end. The solution is right there, and it’s been there all along: Fix the problem. Just hire more Black head coaches. The NFL just can’t seem to do it with any kind of regularity, to the point where it represents actual, sustained progress.”

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