PHOENIX — Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks joined a discrimination lawsuit involving multiple NFL teams Thursday.
Court documents show Coach Wilks, as well as Coach Ray Horton, were added as plaintiffs on a complaint with Brian Flores, alleging “systemic racial discrimination in the hiring, retention and termination of NFL coaches and executives.”
According to the documents, “Wilks was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals… in a manner consistent with the experiences of many Black coaches.”
The complaint goes on to say, “Wilks was hired as a ‘bridge coach’ and was not given any meaningful chance to succeed. He was unfairly and discriminatorily fired after just one season…”
While Wilks was coaching with the Cardinals, General Manager Steve Keim was suspended for a DUI conviction.
“Mr. Keim, in contrast, who clearly had personal responsibility for the team’s performance, and who had engaged in fireable conduct, remained,” while Wilks was let go, the complaint states.
After Wilks, the Cardinals hired, “a white coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who had no prior NFL coaching experience and was coming off of multiple losing seasons as a Head Coach at Texas Tech University.”
The New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Tennessee Titans are also named in the complaint.
On a day when more NFL Alumni joined a discrimination lawsuit against the league and their hiring practices, Arizona State University's Cronkite School held a pre-planned panel on diversity and hiring in the NFL.
The panel included ASU Athletic Director, Ray Anderson, former NFL head coach Marvin Lewis, Sports journalist William Rhoden and ASU head football coach Herm Edwards - who spent three decades with the NFL.
The panel discussed the Rooney Rule which requires NFL teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs.
“People are interviewing you, but you're not going to get the job. The owner is going to call is other buddy and say 'did he interview for you? how was it? ' 'Well we'll interview him.' Check the box. And that became the unintended consequences of the Rooney rule,” said Herm Edwards
“In the NFL, there's a long deep history of folks not really open minded until they're forced, financially or legally, to make appropriate changes available,” said Ray Anderson, ASU Athletic Director.