ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — John Elway is refuting Brian Flores’ claim in a lawsuit that his interview with the Denver Broncos in 2019 was a sham and only conducted to satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.
“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,” the Denver Broncos president of football operations said in a statement released by the team Thursday.
Flores, recently fired as head coach in Miami, named the Dolphins, Giants and Broncos in a lawsuit this week alleging unfair hiring practices in the NFL.
Flores said in the lawsuit that Elway, then the team’s general manager, and president/CEO Joe Ellis showed up an hour late for his interview at a Providence, Rhode Island hotel, and they “looked completely disheveled and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before.”
Elway responded that he seriously considered Flores, one of five candidates for the job that ultimately went to then-Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. And he denied Flores’ contention he was hung over and just going through the motions to satisfy the league’s requirement that teams interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs.
“For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong,” Elway said in his statement.
Elway said that if he appeared disheveled, “it was because we had just flown in during the middle of the night” following an interview in Denver with another candidate, Mike Munchak, “and were going on a few hours of sleep to meet the only window provided to us.”
At the time, Flores was the linebackers coach and defensive play caller for the New England Patriots. He was hired by the Dolphins shortly after his interview with the Broncos.
“I interviewed Brian in good faith, giving him the same consideration and opportunity as every other candidate for our head coaching position in 2019,” Elway said.
Elway said he enjoyed his 3 1/2-hour interview with Flores and was “prepared, ready and fully engaged … as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team.”
“It’s unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him,” Elway added.