‘You Have To Go And Prove That You’re Worthy’: Former Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis Weighs In On Brian Flores Racial Discrimination Suit, Speaks on His Own Experience

As the Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and three teams continues to unfold, other voices have weighed in on the news.

Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis stopped by ESPN and described similar bogus interviews that Brian Flores points to in his lawsuit against the NFL.

According to Lewis, in 2002, he saw that the Carolina Panthers were planning on hiring John Fox as their next head coach via media reports. However, the team convinced Lewis to come in for an interview; he complied.


To Lewis, this was another attempt to manipulate the Rooney Rule. Lewis believes strongly that Panthers ownership, under the direction of Jerry Richardson, met with him just to check a box: Black candidate interviewed.

Although Richardson said at the time that it was an actual interview and was still deciding whether to hire Fox.

“I did interview with the Carolina Panthers before John Fox got the job,” Lewis said on “First Take.” “I ended up going down to Charlotte to meet with the Richardson family, and they said that wasn’t true and so forth, and then they named John the head coach.” Adding, “You have to go and prove that you’re worthy to become the head coach.”

Lack of Diversity?

Historically, the NFL has notoriously not implemented diversity tactics in its earliest iteration. However, the main criticism has always been diversity in the head coaching ranks and the quarterback position.

Lewis feels that experience with the Panthers exposed him directly to the dichotomy of being a qualified coach treated as window-dressing. For Lewis, the Panthers interview was their attempt to be compliant, but the intention was illegitimate.

Flores set his lawsuit as a class action. That means he is opening the door for others to join the suit for their respective experiences. In fact, according to Flores, other Black coaches might join the lawsuit against the NFL.

New Rules?

In addition, Lewis could be a potential plaintiff if he can also demonstrate that he faced discrimination. He certainly has stories that showcase it.

The Bengals hired Lewis after the Panthers didn’t work out. He was there until 2018; however, he hasn’t received a head coach job since then.

Brian Flores has set the stage for all the potential coaches to speak their part. Flores knows he is potentially sacrificing his career, but he understands the risks involved.

“We Need Change”

In his words, Flores is pushing forward with the case because “we need change.” Flores has cast the net wide, filing a lawsuit against the NFL and three teams: the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and his former team, the Miami Dolphins.

Flores alleges discrimination during the interview process with the three teams. He also cited his recent firing last month by the Miami Dolphins. Flores was a coach in south Florida from 2019 to 2021.

For more about former Black head coaches who might be joining Brian Flores’ class action suit against the NFL, click here.

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