From a media perspective, one of the fascinating parts of former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the NFL and its teams Tuesday over alleged racial discrimination in hiring was how different TV networks covered it. ESPN got to this quite quickly Tuesday despite being a NFL rights partner (a stark contrast from how their live game commitments hindered their coverage of Tom Brady’s camp refuting their initial reports on his retirement this weekend), but FS1 offered no coverage of it, and NFLN offered only a short piece 20 minutes into NFL Total Access (which they even led with the league denial). But on Wednesday, NFLN handled this in a much more serious manner, including with a segment featuring network personalities Steve Wyche and Cameron Wolfe:
Brian Flores was done being quiet and his lawsuit has a huge impact on the league & Black coaches watching to see what change happens.
A NFL Now convo about that and new details about his accusation that Steve Ross offered to pay for #Dolphins losses. pic.twitter.com/TFeexOCQLX
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 2, 2022
That’s notable not just for the frank discussion of the potential league-wide implications of Flores’ allegations, but also for Wolfe’s report that a witness told him he heard Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross offer Flores $100,000 per loss in 2019 (one of the more explosive allegations in Flores’ lawsuit). And, to their credit, NFL.com ran a full story on that:
NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe reported Wednesday that he spoke with a witness who said he heard Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offer former head coach Brian Flores $100,000 for every loss during the 2019 season.
Wolfe also reported that Flores’ team says it has evidence, including messages from general manager Chris Grier, which corroborate the allegations against Ross.
There’s still plenty of room for criticism of NFLN for their belated handling of this Tuesday, and for the lack of significant on-air time on their “news” show that was devoted to this. The Flores lawsuit is obviously a huge NFL story, and one with countless possible dimensions to dive into, and one with notable implications for a lot of NFL teams. (In particular, Tuesday’s coverage would even have been strengthened with a relaying of Flores’ specific allegations against the Giants, Dolphins, and Broncos, and with a relaying of those teams’ respective statements on it.) But it is worth giving NFLN credit for the more serious approach they brought to their coverage of this Wednesday, and particularly the way Wolfe broke some new news on it (about there being a witness to the Flores allegations of a loss bounty from Ross). We’ll see how they cover it in the days ahead, but their coverage Wednesday was certainly more promising than what they did Tuesday.
[Cameron Wolfe on Twitter]