Denver Broncos' John Elway responds to lawsuit, calls Brian Flores' allegations 'false and defamatory'

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway called allegations about him included in Brian Flores' lawsuit against the league and three teams "false and defamatory.''

The Broncos interviewed Flores for the team's head-coaching job in 2019.

Elway released a lengthy statement Thursday in response to Flores' potential class-action lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, Giants and Broncos that was filed earlier this week. In the lawsuit, Flores and his representatives allege Elway and team CEO Joe Ellis "showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before.''

The Broncos' interview was also labeled a "sham'' and "that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job.''

Vic Fangio was eventually hired for the team's head-coaching job in 2019.

"While I was not planning to respond publicly to the false and defamatory claims by Brian Flores, I could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked," Elway said in his statement.

"I took Coach Flores very seriously as a candidate for our head coaching position in 2019 and enjoyed our three-and-a-half hour interview with him. Along with the rest of our group, I was prepared, ready and fully engaged during the entire interview as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team.

"It's unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him.

"For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong. If I appeared 'disheveled,' as he claimed, it was because we had flown in during the middle of the night -- immediately following another interview in Denver -- and were going on a few hours of sleep to meet the only window provided to us.

"I interviewed Brian in good faith, giving him the same consideration and opportunity as every other candidate for our head coaching position in 2019.''

The Broncos have said five people attended the interview in Providence, Rhode Island, with Flores, who was a New England Patriots assistant coach at the time. The team said it has "detailed notes, analysis and evaluations'' from the interview with Flores.

Elway stepped away from the day-to-day football decisions last year when general manager George Paton was hired. Fangio was fired last month after the Broncos' 7-10 finish, and Paton led the search that concluded last week with Nathaniel Hackett hired as the team's head coach.

Paton and others in the organization interviewed 10 candidates for the job.