Specifically pertaining to his time with the Dolphins, Flores, the team's former coach, said owner Stephen Ross explicitly offered him $100,000 for each loss the team suffered in 2019, in an attempt to strengthen the value of the Dolphins' NFL draft pick.
Flores was hired by Miami before the 2019 season, taking over a team that was expected to be one of the worst in the NFL that season. But he said Ross made an extraordinary effort to ensure that would be the case.
"That was a conversation about not doing as much as we needed to do in order to win football games," Flores said Wednesday in an interview with ESPN's Get Up. "Take a flight, go on vacation, I'll give you $100,000 per loss -- those were his exact words. I deal in truth, I tell the players this, as well. I'm gonna give you good news, bad news -- but it's going to be honest."
"To disrespect the game like that, trust was lost, and there were certainly some strained relationships, and ultimately, I think that was my demise in Miami."
After Flores' lawsuit was filed, the NFL issued a statement saying it had no merit, but a league source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that comment pertains only to accusations of discrimination in hiring practices. The source said the league will investigate allegations that Ross offered Flores money to lose games.
The Dolphins fired Flores on Jan. 10 after three seasons with the team -- including consecutive winning seasons in 2020 and 2021. Ross claimed the decision was made because of issues with the "collaboration" within the organization, but Flores alleges his firing stemmed from his refusal to tank in 2019.
Flores' lawyers said his experience was not unique and that other coaches have reached out to them with similar stories in regard to being incentivized to tank, as well as enduring discriminatory hiring practices.
In his 58-page lawsuit, Flores shared alleged text messages from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick that congratulated him in advance for getting a head-coaching job with the Giants -- whom Flores was set to interview with three days later.
However, Flores determined Belichick's messages were meant for Brian Daboll, whom the team hired the day after interviewing Flores.
"Disbelief. Humiliation. That was a tough pill to swallow," Flores said of his reaction to Belichick's messages. "I have a great amount of respect for Bill and Brian Daboll. ... I was upset that I wasn't getting a true opportunity to show what I can bring to a team."
Despite knowing the Giants would eventually hire Daboll, Flores prepared for and attended his interview with the team on Jan. 27 -- partly out of hope the Giants would give him fair consideration, he told ESPN.
But ultimately, Flores believes the interview "checked a box" to satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams hold an in-person interview with an external minority candidate for vacant head-coaching jobs, as well as coordinator jobs after changes to the rule in recent years.
"Those text messages confirmed what a lot of us minority coaches already feel," he said. "That we're going into these interviews and they're shams."
Flores is still a candidate for two open head-coaching vacancies -- the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans -- and said he reached out to both teams in advance to let them know about his impending lawsuit.
"He's very impressive, and we had a great interview," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Loomis also confirmed that Flores informed the Saints that the lawsuit was coming after they completed their interview -- and before the lawsuit was made public.
Flores does not intend to drop the suit if hired by either franchise, insisting that he is speaking up in order to effect change throughout the league. Flores' lawsuit states that he is seeking, among other changes:
• Increased influence of Black individuals in hiring
• Increased "objectivity" of hiring/terminating GMs, head coaches and coordinators
• Increased number of Black coordinators
• Incentivized hiring/retention of Black GMs, head coaches and coordinators
• Transparency of pay for GMs, head coaches and coordinators
"We didn't have to file a lawsuit for the world to know there's an issue," he said. "We need change. That was the No. 1 reason. I know there's sacrifice, there's risk to that, but at the end of the day, we need change. I know many capable Black coaches who I know, when given an opportunity, will do a great job during their interview.
"This isn't about me. It's bigger than football. This is about equal opportunity for qualified Black candidates -- not just in football but everywhere, in all industries."
Former NFL head coach Marvin Lewis, appearing Wednesday on ESPN First Take, said he had a situation similar to the one Flores had with the Giants when he interviewed for the Carolina Panthers' head-coaching job in 2002. He said the day before he was scheduled to interview with the team, he heard on ESPN that John Fox would be hired later that week. He still went for the interview and was told by the Richardson family, who owned the team at that time, that the report was not true -- but Fox was hired later that week, as had been reported.
"That was the situation I was in, but you have to go and prove that you're worthy to become the head coach," Lewis said. "You're appreciative of the opportunity, but what was supposedly going to happen ended up happening in that case, for sure."
Lewis was hired by the Cincinnati Bengals as their head coach in 2003, the same year the Rooney Rule was adopted, and spent 16 seasons with the organization before being fired after the 2018 season. He is currently a special adviser to Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards.
Rod Graves, executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance and a former general manager in the league, noted that Flores' lawsuit is the latest call to action for the NFL and its team owners. The alliance, which fights for equity and inclusion in pro football, is named after a Black player and coach in the 1920s who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It champions diversity in the NFL "through education and providing its members with resources that will help them succeed at every level of the game.''
"Men and women of color in the NFL community have long known that the odds of advancing in the coaching ranks and in the front office are stacked against them," Graves said in a statement. "The Fritz Pollard Alliance supports coach Flores and others in their effort to level the playing field for men and women of color.''
Also on Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) wrote a letter to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), the chair of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, urging the subcommittee "to swiftly hold a hearing on the issue of systemic racism in the NFL," according to The Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the letter.
ESPN's Mike Triplett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.