Denver Broncos president of football operations and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway responded to allegations in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, denying he showed up hungover when meeting with Flores in 2019 and conducted a “sham interview.”
Elway called the claims “false and defamatory.”
Flores filed a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the National Football League, Broncos, Dolphins and New York Giants of racial discrimination in their hiring practices.
Flores said in the lawsuit that Elway and CEO Joe Ellis showed up an hour late to an interview and appeared “completely disheveled,” adding that it was “obvious” that the then-general manager and Ellis had been “drinking heavily the night before.”
Elway said in a statement that he was not planning to address Flores’ claims but “could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked.”
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Elway said the team took Flores seriously as a candidate and conducted a three-and-a-half-hour interview with him. The Broncos ultimately hired Vic Fangio as their head coach. Fangio was fired last month after posting a 19-30 in three seasons.
“It’s unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him,” Elway said, adding he interviewed Flores in “good faith.”
“For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong,” Elway said.
Elway said his appearance was due to him flying in the middle of the night and getting just a few hours of sleep.
In addition to meeting this year with the Giants, who hired Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for their vacancy, Flores also interviewed with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints for their still-open head coaching jobs. He said he realizes he “may be risking coaching the game that I love” by filing a lawsuit and making the claims.
The NFL and the teams named in the filing each have denied the accusations, with the NFL saying the lawsuit is “without merit.”