Attorneys For Steve Wilks, Brian Flores ‘Shocked’ By Panthers Coach Hire

'There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL...'


Jan 26, 2023

The Panthers became the first team to knock down the head coaching dominoes when they hired Frank Reich on Thursday.

The first quarterback in the team’s history is the sixth head coach in Carolina franchise history. Reich takes over after interim head coach Steve Wilks, who replaced former head coach Matt Rhule during the 2022-23 campaign.

Wilks was a candidate for the job, but Panthers owner David Tepper opted for the recently-fired Indianapolis Colts head coach. The news did not meet Wilks’ legal representation well.

“We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into Playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the Head Coach position by David Tepper,” Widgor Law LLP wrote in a Twitter statement. “There is a legitimate race problem in the NFL, and we can assure you that we will have more to say in the coming days.”

Wilks joined former New England Patriots assistant Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Ray Horton in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Flores filed the suit after he was fired by the Miami Dolphins after the 2021 season and his subsequent interview with the New York Giants. The Giants hired Brian Daboll for the role.

Flores alleged he was part of sham interviews to skirt the Rooney Rule and was discriminated against based on his race. Horton and Wilks have alleged similar discrimination with the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals, respectively.

The coaches’ attorneys argued against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell overseeing the arbitration process. They alleged in an Oct. 7 motion to the court that Goodell is too biased to serve impartially, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones.

Wilks took over for Rhule after Week 5 and led the Panthers from 1-5 to a 7-10 finish. Carolina finished just one game behind the NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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