Dolphins’ Ross vows to defend vs. Flores’ ‘malicious attacks’

Pretrial hearing in lawsuit set for March 18

Stephen Ross calls the allegations raised by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores "false, malicious and defamatory."

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he welcomes an investigation into claims made Tuesday in a lawsuit from former coach Brian Flores, calling them “false, malicious and defamatory.”

In a statement released just after midnight Thursday, Ross said:

“With regards to the allegations being made by Brian Flores, I am a man of honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding. I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory. We understand there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully. I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”

Flores, 40, sued the NFL and teams including the Dolphins, alleging racist hiring practices. Flores also accused Ross, 81, of offering him money to lose games in his first season to position the team for a top draft pick. Flores said he refused to do that.

The lawsuit also alleged that Ross pressured Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of the league’s tampering rules. When Flores refused, he was cast as the “angry Black man” who is difficult to work with and was derided until he was fired, the suit said.

[ALSO SEE: Read the full lawsuit filed by Brian Flores]

The Dolphins fired Flores last month after he led them to a 24-25 record over three years.

The first pretrial hearing in the case is set for March 18 in federal court.

“We’re going keep it the way it is or go in another direction and make some change where we’re actually changing the hearts and minds of those who make decisions to hire head coaches, executives, et cetera,” Flores said Wednesday in an interview on CBS. “That’s what we’ve got to get to. We’ve got to change hearts and minds.”

The Dolphins released a statement Tuesday after Flores’ lawsuit was filed, saying:

“We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time.”

A sports attorney not involved with this case told Local 10 News that he believes Flores’ lawsuit could be “career suicide” but that he could be in line for a lucrative settlement with the NFL.

Flores has interviewed with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints, who have yet to fill their head coaching vacancies. But Flores said even if he lands another job, the suit will go on because the league needs change.

“This is about changing the hiring practices in the National Football League, and that’s what this lawsuit is about,” Flores said Wednesday on CNN. “I want to coach football that’s what I’m called to do.”