Broncos exec John Elway calls Brian Flores’ claim of sham interview ‘false and defamatory’
Denver Broncos president of football operations John Elway has called former Miami Dolphins head football coach Brain Flores’ accusations that the team conducted a sham head coaching interview to meet racial quotas “false and defamatory.”
Flores, who was fired by the Dolphins last month, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three teams — the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Broncos — on Tuesday alleging race discrimination in its hiring practices.
He specifically alleged that former Broncos General manager John Elway, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and other members of the team’s management had clearly been drinking the night before the interview.
“They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before,” his suit read. “It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job.”
The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for head coach openings.
In a statement on Thursday, Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback, said “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.”
“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,” Elway continued.
“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,” Elway added.
In an interview with NPR this week, Flores recounted additional details of his interview with the Broncos, saying Elway and team CEO Joe Ellis showed up an hour late to the interview.
“There was a text like, ‘Hey it’s going to take a bit. We’re not ready yet. We’re not ready yet.’ I go up and sit down with their executive team. Look when you sit in front of a group — I’ve been on 9 interviews — there are notes, they are ready to go,” Flores said in the interview.
“There’s a system and a process of how they are going to interview you where they have a series of questions on this area and this area. They looked disheveled, like they were out of it. A couple of guys in particular. I felt like it was a decision they had already made,” he added.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Broncos denied the allegations from Flores, saying their interview process “was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position.”
“The Broncos will vigorously defend the integrity and values of our organization — and its employees — from such baseless and disparaging claims.”