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imagn's Matt Kartozian

Two months after former Dolphins coach Brian Flores first announced a class-action lawsuit against the NFL alleging racial discrimination in hiring and workplace practices, two other coaches have joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs, as ProFootballTalk first reported Thursday. Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and former defensive coordinator Ray Horton have filed their own claims against both the league and, specifically, the Cardinals and Titans, according to Flores' attorneys.

Wilks, hired this offseason as the Panthers' new secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator, spent the 2018 season as the Cardinals' head coach. Flores' amended lawsuit alleges that Wilks, who was fired and replaced with current coach Kliff Kingsbury after one 3-13 season, was only hired as a "bridge coach ... not given any meaningful chance to succeed." It also includes claims that Wilks wanted to trade up for current Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the 2018 draft, but instead ended up with Josh Rosen, who lasted just one season with the team.

Wilks' claims also allege that Cardinals general manager Steve Keim received a longer leash from team brass, even though he allegedly violated a suspension related to a DUI charge by negotiating a player's contract during his disciplinary period.

"When Coach Flores filed this action, I knew I owed it to myself, and to all Black NFL coaches and aspiring coaches, to stand with him," Wilks said in a statement released by his lawyers. "Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same ability to become employed, and remain employed, as white coaches and candidates. That is not currently the case, and I look forward to working with Coach Flores and Coach Horton to ensure that the aspiration of racial equality in the NFL becomes a reality."

Horton, who spent 2011-12 as Arizona's defensive coordinator and has held three other coordinator jobs since, alleges the Titans gave him a "sham interview" for their head coaching job in 2016. The lawsuit cites previous comments from Mike Mularkey, who was hired as the team's coach instead. Mularkey appeared on the "Steelers Realm" podcast in 2020 and regretfully admitted the Titans informed him he would be hired in 2016 even before conducting interviews with minority candidates.

"I've always prided myself on doing the right thing in this business and I can't say that's true about everybody in this business," Mularkey said on the podcast. "It's a very cutthroat business and a lot of guys will tell you that. ... I allowed myself at one point when I was in Tennessee to get caught up in something I regret it and I still regret it. But the ownership there, Amy Adams Strunk and her family, came in and told me I was going be the head coach in 2016 before they went through the Rooney Rule. And so, I sat there knowing I was the head coach in '16 as they went through this fake hiring process. Knowing a lot of the coaches they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance of getting that job. Actually, the GM, Jon Robinson, he was in on the interview with me. He had no idea why he was interviewing me -- (because) I had the job already ... I'm sorry I did that. It was not the way to go about it."

Horton said in a statement Thursday that when he heard Mularkey's revelation, he "was devastated and humiliated. By joining this case, I am hoping to turn that experience into a positive and make lasting change and create true equal opportunity in the future."

Both the Cardinals and Titans have since denied allegations levied by Wilks and Horton, respectively. Arizona said in a team statement later Thursday that its 2018 staff decisions, including Wilks' dismissal, "were entirely driven by what was in the best interests of our organization," and suggested the "facts reflect that and demonstrate that these allegations are untrue." The Titans, meanwhile, said their 2016 head coaching search "was an open and competitive process during which we conducted in-person interviews with four candidates and followed all NFL rules," adding that a hiring decision wasn't "final" until after all candidates had been interviewed.

Flores' class-action suit, which originally targeted the Dolphins and Giants in addition to the NFL, has also been amended to include claims by Flores of "retaliatory" practices by the Texans, who interviewed him for their own head coaching vacancy this offseason but ultimately hired defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. Houston removed him from consideration for its opening "due to his decision to file this action and speak publicly about systemic discrimination in the NFL," Flores' attorneys allege.

The NFL is still investigating claims by Flores, now employed as the Steelers' linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant, related to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who allegedly offered the former coach $100,000 per loss during his tenure as Miami's head coach in order to better the club's draft position. Flores' amended suit includes allegations that the coach sent a memo regarding Ross' supposed bribery to other team executives in 2019.