CNN  — 

An accidental congratulatory text message from New England head coach Bill Belichick to Brian Flores is at the center of a lawsuit that has rocked the NFL.

Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins organizations.

The 40-year-old, who is Black, says in his lawsuit that the Giants interviewed him for their vacant head coaching job under disingenuous circumstances, as Flores had found out three days before his interview that the Giants had already decided to hire Brian Daboll.

Flores says he learned this after receiving a congratulatory text message from Belichick, whom Flores used to work for, that was sent in error.

The former Dolphins head coach says that his kids were the inspiration to fight the NFL and what tipped him over the edge to file the lawsuit against the league and three teams alleging racial discrimination.

Asked about it on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday, Flores said, “I have two sons, they’re 8 and 7. I’ve got a 5-year-old daughter. When I look at them, I don’t want them to go through some of the things I’ve had to go through.”

He said he went through a “wave of emotions” upon finding out that he was attending what he called a “sham interview.”

“It was humiliating, to be quite honest. There was disbelief, there was anger. There was a wave of emotions for a lot of reasons.”

When asked how he’ll feel if it turns out he’s coached his final NFL game, Flores said: “If there’s change, it’ll be worth it.”

Flores explained that as one of the few Black NFL head coaches, he felt different pressures to his White counterparts.

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“I would say I felt similar pressures that Black people feel in all fields, not just football. That we have to do more, that we have to be better, that we have to be exceptional just to stay on a level playing field.

“And it’s in a lot of ways unfair, but I know I’m not alone in that feeling. I know that. And I think we’re going to get more stories similar to mine. And it’s hard to step out.

“It’s hard to do what we’re doing here because, in doing so, you risk doing what you love, which is coaching the game of football. But being a Black coach in the National Football League, you know that there’s a little bit of a target on you and you know you have to be better than your counterparts.”

Mistaken congratulatory text came days before interview

Flores says in his lawsuit that he before he interviewed with the Giants, he received a congratulatory text message from Belichick that was sent in error. Daboll, who also is a former Belichick assistant, got the Giants’ job.

“Sounds like you have landed – congrats!!” Belichick texted to Flores, according to screen grabs of the conversation presented in Flores’ lawsuit.

“Did you hear something I didn’t hear?” Flores replied.

“Giants?!?!?!” Belichick texted.

“I interview on Thursday,” Flores wrote. “I think I have a shot at it.”

“Got it – I hear from Buffalo & NYG that you are their guy,” Belichick replied.

Later, Flores sought clarification.

“Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll,” Flores asked. “Just making sure.”

“Sorry – I f**ked this up,” Belichick answered. “I doubled checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB”

Of 32 NFL coaches, just 3 are people of color

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, who is Latino, praised Flores for speaking out, saying: “When you look at what Brian (Flores) has accomplished and what he has done, there is a lot of merit there.”

Flores, who had two winning seasons in his three years in Miami, alleges in his lawsuit that his interview with the Giants was a ruse so the team could “demonstrate falsely to League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Flores on the sidelines during a game against the Tennessee Titans during his time as head coach of the Dolphins.

The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003 in an effort to increase diversity among the NFL’s head coaching, general manager and executive ranks. The rule requires every team to interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions, according to the NFL’s Football Operations website.

Currently, only one out of 27 head coaches employed in the NFL is Black, with five teams without a head coach, in a league where roughly 70% of the players are Black. There are two other non-Black minority coaches – one of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent (Rivera) and one of Lebanese descent (Jets coach Robert Saleh).

Flores expressed thanks for all the messages of support he has received since filing his lawsuit, saying on “CBS Mornings” it has been a “tough 24 hours.”

In his statement in the lawsuit, Flores acknowledged that it could be damaging for his future career prospects – he was interviewing for two other head coach openings at the time it was released.

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Flores says he won’t drop lawsuit

When asked whether he’ll drop the lawsuit if he gets hired by a team in the next few days, Flores’ answer was emphatic.

“No. We need change. That’s what we need – we need change. This is about changing the hiring practices in the National Football League.”

But creating a level playing field is more important to the four-time Super Bowl winning coach, he said.

“I understand the risk. Look, I love coaching football. … And I still want to coach,” Flores told CNN.

“But this is bigger than coaching, this is bigger than me. The numbers speak for themselves as far as the hiring, firing and the lack of opportunities for minority and Black head coaches and executives in the National Football League, and we need the change. We need things to change.”

Flores spoke with CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday night about how the league needs to progress.

“The people who make the decisions and the people who are working – the players, 70% are Black, and the people who are making decisions, the majority are White,” Flores said. “And what we are trying to do with this lawsuit is really create change. I think that people talk about it. We implement a policy here, a policy there. I’m not looking for fluff policies.

“I’m looking for real change, and to me that starts in the hearts and minds of people who make those decisions, and that’s got to come through dialogue. That’s got to come from communication. That’s got to come through keeping an open mind and being willing to talk to and get to know people that are different than you are used to. Quite frankly, I think that an owner is not willing to do that, he is not fit for this league.”