Sean Pendergast

Could David Culley Join the Brian Flores Lawsuit Against the NFL?

David Culley's story was recapped in the Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL.
David Culley's story was recapped in the Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL. Photo by Eric Sauseda
It all went down on Tuesday afternoon, but the Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the NFL is still sending shockwaves throughout the league two days later, and likely will for quite some time. In particular, the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and the league itself have all had to issue statements reflecting their side of Flores' accusations.

By and large, all parties accused have issued statements that have ranged from dismissive to out and out disputing Flores' version of the truth. In other words, this thing is going to go on for quite some time, even if Flores happens to get a job in this cycle of head coaching hires. It is worth noting, as of right now, he is a finalist for the Texans' vacancy, along with Philadelphia DC Jonathan Gannon and journeyman QB Josh McCown. Worth mentioning, given the nature of the lawsuit, both oof the other finalists are white.

Before we get to the relevant Texans-related questions generated from the lawsuit, here is a copy of the suit itself, for reference purposes:
Now, here are the questions that, as a Texans fan and media member, are burning in my brain right now:

1. Does Brian Flores still have a chance at the Texans' head coaching job?
Theoretically, I suppose he does, although this lawsuit obviously complicates things, not only with the Texans, but also any other team that would consider hiring Flores in the future. For what it's worth, Flores made it clear in an interview he did on ESPN this week that he notified the Texans and Saints, the two teams for whom he was still in the running for head coach, of his intent to sue the league before filing the lawsuit, so he has been up front with them. As for the Texans, there are two ways to look at this, if indeed the lawsuit is a factor in hiring Flores (or not). On the one hand, NFL owners could tell Cal McNair, "We don't want you to hire this guy, he is suing all of us!" On the other hand, the Texans actually hiring Flores could reduce the heat caused from the lawsuit. It doesn't make the lawsuit without basis, but hiring Flores could amp down the scrutiny a bit. In the end, McNair shouldn't rubber stamp any decision based in lawsuit reaction. The Texans need to pick the BEST COACH for their team.

2. Is Jonathan Gannon now a stronger candidate than he was two days ago?
So that begs the question — who is the best coach for the Texans? The scuttlebutt over the last couple weeks has been that the team will ultimately choose McCown, despite his complete lack of any coaching experience, at any level. However, perhaps they are taking a longer look at things, since as of Thursday morning, the team still hadn't named a head coach. It appears as though, perhaps, Gannon is picking up some steam:
Wilson has sources within the Texans, so this is probably a report directly from an internal source. Again, if it is Gannon the Texans choose, the hope is that it is because he is the best coach for the job. However, undeniably, Gannon, and his 16 years of coaching experience, would be a choice that would garner far less scrutiny around the league than McCown, whose resume as a coach doesn't even come close to matching David Culley's, let alone Brian Flores'.

3. Does David Culley join the class action lawsuit?
Speaking of Culley, there is a section in the Flores lawsuit devoted to the story surrounding Culley's termination from the Texans a few weeks ago. (You'll find it on pages 43 and 44 of the embedded PDF document above.) The lawsuit mentions Culley's extensive background as an assistant, and mentions just how high the deck was stacked against him as the Texans' coach in 2021, specifically not having Deshaun Watson as his quarterback. The most relevant portions of the Culley section are as follows:
184. Mr. Culley’s prospects for success were near impossible, but Mr. Culley managed to coach the team to the same record as the team had its previous season.

185. Immediately after the season ended, the Texans fired Mr. Culley without explanation other than vague “philosophical differences”—which begs the question why he was hired just one year earlier in the first place.
Look, anybody who watched David Culley coach NFL football games this past season knows he was a complete mess as a game day coach. Game management gaffes were routine, and damn near legendary in their absurdity on Culley's watch. Honestly, Culley should be happy that the team merely cited vague "philosophical differences," because they could have listed his game day, press conference, and potential hiring/staff retention gaffes and REALLY embarrassed him. It will be fascinating to see if Culley joins Flores on this lawsuit, considering he reportedly walked away with $22 million — the full value of his four year contract — for just one season of actual work.

4. How exactly IS the Texans' record in minority hiring?
There are some interesting statistics cited in the lawsuit regarding the history of minority hiring in the NFL, specifically the roles of head coach, general manager, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and QB coach. Among the numbers:
* HEAD COACH: In the 20 years since the Rooney Rule was passed, only 15 Head Coaching positions have been filled by Black Candidates. During that time, there have been approximately 129 Head Coaching vacancies. Thus only 11% of Head Coach positions have been filled by Black candidates—in a league where 70% of players are Black.

* GENERAL MANAGER: According to the NFL’s Diversity & Inclusion Report, from 2012 through 2021 there were 37 General Managers vacancies and only six were filled by Black candidates (16 percent). 20 NFL teams have never had a Black General Manager.

* COORDINATORS/ASSISTANTS: Currently, there are only four Black Offensive Coordinators in the 32-team League (12.5 percent), and 11 Black Defensive Coordinators (34 percent). Moreover, only three out of 32 teams have a Black Quarterbacks Coach, which is the position that most often leads to an Offensive Coordinator opportunity.
Obviously, those are some very lopsided numbers, and the goal of the Rooney Rule (and probably eventual changes stemming from this lawsuit) is to remedy this disparity in an openminded way. For what it's worth, in recent years, the Texans have probably been on the more progressive side, when it's come to diversity in hiring. Here are the Texans' minority hires at the positions under the microscope of the lawsuit:

GM: Rick Smith (2006-2017)
HC: Romeo Crennel (2020, interim), David Culley (2021)
OC: None
DC: Frank Bush (2009-2010), Romeo Crennel (2014-2016, 2018-2019), Anthony Weaver (2020), Lovie Smith (2021)
QB coach: Pep Hamilton (2021)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast