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Ray Horton, Steve Wilks join Brian Flores’ lawsuit against NFL



Steve Wilks

Steve Wilks
Photo: Getty Images

An amendment to Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL was filed in the Southern District of New York Thursday, adding longtime NFL defensive coordinator Ray Horton and former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks to the complaint.

In the two months since Flores filed a lawsuit challenging the pervasive racial discrimination within the NFL’s hiring practices, Commissioner Roger Goodell has been in damage control mode. Soon after the NFL denounced Flores’ contract as one without merit, the league announced it was retaining outside experts to evaluate the NFL’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. In March, the NFL mandated all 32 teams to employ a woman or minority on staff as an offensive assistant.

Flores’ lawsuit has gained steam the longer it’s stewed in the public sphere. Privately, Flores’ legal team has been collecting receipts. The idea behind a class action lawsuit is to prove a similar group of people were harmed or suffered due to the other party’s actions. Flores’ legal team is well on its way to doing that by bringing a pair of distinguished coaches into the fold. Wilks and Horton potentially strengthen Flores’ case against the NFL by introducing potential testimony from multiple affected parties.

Wilks, who spent a year at Mizzou after 14 seasons in the NFL, is still an active coach, having been hired to serve in a dual passing game coordinator and secondary coach role. Aspects of Wilks’ complaint were included in Flores’ original filing, but more detail was added in their recent filing. Wilks alleges that the Cardinals only hired him as a “bridge coach” and that “[he was] dealt a difficult hand.” The difficult hand Wilks references was an allusion to general manager Steve Keim’s early-season four-game suspension for a DUI.

Keim hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace Wilks before the franchise drafted Kyler Murray. In his lone season as the Cardinals’ head coach, Wilks went 3-13. Kingsbury went 5-10-1 with the No. 1 overall pick under center in his first season at the helm.

A decade ago, Ray Horton was a highly sought-after defensive mind. After becoming a head coaching candidate, he was put through the wringer twice. In 2012, the Cardinals defense he revamped finished with one of the NFL’s 10 best turnover percentages and third in scoring percentage, which calculates the rate of drives that end in a touchdown or field goal, despite Ken Whisenhunt’s offense faltering all season.

Horton was so crestfallen after the Cardinals hired Bruce Arians (while leading him to believe that he’d be the leading candidate, that he got into a public spat with Keim. However, Horton’s interview process with the Titans may be a crushing blow to the NFL’s defense. In 2014, Horton followed Ken Whisenhunt to the Tennessee Titans staff as their defensive coordinator. Ater Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties, Horton interviewed for the head coaching position. Instead, the Titans opted to go with interim head coach Mike Mularkey. Mularkey was a retread hire who’d won 18 of his 57 games in Jacksonville.

Horton alleges that the Titans conducted a sham interview with him and then-Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in the filing. An unearthed Mularkey interview from 2020 on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast corroborates Horton’s allegations.

“And so I sat there knowing I was the head coach in 2016, as they went through this fake hiring process knowing … a lot of the coaches that they were interviewing, knowing how much they prepared to go through those interviews, knowing that everything they could do and they had no chance to go that job,” Mularkey said, via the amended complaint. “And actually, the GM Jon Robinson, he was in an interview with me. He had no idea why he is interviewing me, that I have a job already. I regret it. … and I regretted it since then. I am sorry I did that, but it was not the way to do that. Should have been interviewed like everybody else and got hired ’cause of the interview not early on.”

Mularkey’s regretful comments, stating his explicit awareness that he and Titans were screwing over other coaches, is even more detrimental to the league than Bill Belichick mixing up his Coach Brians. A confession right out of a prominent white man’s mouth will carry more weight in the eyes of the broader public and, more importantly, in civil court. Nearly two years after he retired from coaching, Mularkey has nothing to lose and no fear of being blackballed. Better late than never.

For Horton, it’s too late as he retired in 2010. However, Horton stated his desire to improve conditions within the NFL for black coaches like Eric Bieniemy, Wilks, and Teryl Austin.

After getting passed over by the Titans, Austin interviewed for Jim Caldwell’s vacated job in Dec. 2017, before bouncing around the league. His only season in Cincinnati during the 2018 season was spent on Marvin Lewis’ staff and, in 2019, he joined the Steelers’ defensive staff in 2019. On Feb. 9, days after Flores’ lawsuit sent the league into a tailspin, Tomlin promoted Austin to defensive coordinator. Tomlin hired Flores to serve as a senior defensive assistant two weeks later.

After Tomlin hired Flores in March, he explained his reasoning. Tomlin explained, “I didn’t want him [Flores] to feel like he was on an island. I think from a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that.”

Flores initially took the Kaepernick path, pursuing this case against the NFL alone, but there’s strength in numbers.In Flores’ case, the black coaching coaching fraternity is showing solidarity against the NFL.

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Pep Guardiola jokes he’s ‘sorry’ that he stopped Mikel Arteta from becoming Manchester City manager



Arsenal will face City at the Etihad Stadium tonight, with Guardiola’s former assistant back on his old North West stomping ground in the FA Cup fourth round.

The Gunners head north leading rivals City by five points with a game in hand atop the Premier League, but acutely aware of the challenging taking on the frustrated Guardiola and company.

Arteta left Guardiola’s City setup in December 2019 to take the Arsenal helm, transforming the Gunners in remarkable fashion since.

“I am pretty sure if I would have left here before, he would be here [at City] and he would be the best, absolutely,” said Guardiola, of Arteta.

“But I extended my contract, I am sorry, and he didn’t wait, so it could not happen. But definitely it could have.”

Arteta joined Manchester City’s coaching ranks on retiring as a player in 2016, learning his craft under master tactician and serial winner Guardiola.

City’s former Barcelona boss revealed how Arteta would never celebrate goals against the Gunners, the team he represented more than 100 times between 2011 and 2016.

“He loves the club; I remember when we were together here and we scored goals, he jumped a lot and celebrated – except with one team,” said Guardiola.

“One team, every time we score a goal, I jump, look back and he was sitting there. It was Arsenal.”

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R Madrid 3 – 1 A Madrid



Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored in extra-time as Real Madrid fought back to beat local rivals Atletico 3-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

On a freezing night at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu hosting its first game for 77 days due to the World Cup break, Real started slowly and Atletico had many dangerous counter-attacks.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, right, celebrates with teammate Antoine Griezmann after scoring the opening goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Atletico Madrid took the lead against their rivals

Atletico captain Koke delivered a brilliant through ball to Nahuel Molina who ghosting in behind Reals defence and the full back set up Alvaro Morata, a former Real academy player, to tap the ball into an empty net in the 19th minute.

Eder Militao wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 32nd minute after Toni Kroos had delivered a perfect cross.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring
Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring the opener

It was not only until Dani Ceballos came off the bench to replace the injured Ferland Mendy late in the first half that Real started to play better.

The 26-year-old midfielder injected a new dynamic into the team who were far more aggressive after the break.

Benzema wasted two good opportunities and Federico Valverde also sent a shot wide from just outside the box.

Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates
Real Madrid’s Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates

Substitute Rodrygo equalised in the 79th with a delightful goal, dribbling past three defenders before finishing well.

With Real Madrid in full control, Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was shown his second yellow card for chopping down Eduardo Camavinga in the 99th minute.

Five minutes later, Real substitute Marco Asensio sent a low cross into the box and Vinicius’s deflected shot reached Benzema who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the net.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Karim Benzema’s goal made it 2-1 in extra time

Vinicius secured Real’s win in the dying seconds with a brilliant individual goal, running half the length of the pitch before scoring with a low shot.

“We got behind very early and after Mendy’s injury the whole team had to be rebuilt. But we woke up and played really well after the break,” Ceballos told TVE.

“They played better in the first half, but the coach corrected things in the second; we took control of the ball and found the goal. Then, after the red card, everything was easier.”

Real Madrid joined Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals.

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Everything we know about Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle



Patrick Mahomes examines his ankle last Sunday against the Jaguars.

Patrick Mahomes examines his ankle last Sunday against the Jaguars.
Image: Getty Images

It’s conference championship week. With only four teams on the NFL schedule this week — the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals — one interesting storyline can dominate the entire conversation leading up to the games. This time, it’s QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle.

The fact that this storyline is the dominant one heading into the weekend makes sense. He’s the best player in the league, and his team is hosting the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals who are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Also, the game is taking place one week after he suffered a high-ankle sprain and was still able to hobble the Chiefs to victory — aided of course by a timely 98-yard touchdown drive that was led by backup quarterback Chad Henne.

How mobile does Mahomes look right now?

Since his right ankle got rolled against the Jacksonville Jaguars, no leg in America has had as much attention on it as his. Not even Brent Maher’s as he overcame his kicking yips during the Dallas Cowboys’ loss on Sunday to the Eagles. Mahomes’ ankle has so much attention on it that Fox 4 KC’s Harold R. Kuntz has been filming him walking down from the press conference podium the last two days. And by filming Mahomes, I mean only his legs.

Thursday update: Mahomes didn’t even need to use the stairs.

Knox’s assessment: Don’t be a hero… until Sunday.

Kuntz isn’t the only reporter on the scene sharing video footage of Mahomes’ mobility. During the portion of practice that was open to the media, many videos were sent out of Mahomes moving around. As the Chiefs were warming up, Mahomes actually jogged and spun as he headed toward his next station. He is certainly running better than he was on Sunday.

In their comments to the media, Andy Reid said that Mahomes “did a nice job and was “comfortable with what we did.” Mahomes said that he believed his Wednesday practice went, “better than I expected.”

For Chiefs fans — and those of us who want to see a well-played AFC Championship Game — this news out of Kansas City is the best we could’ve received. On the Chiefs’ most active days of practice, Mahomes was seen moving very well. Also, he and the head coach both gave positive updates about the health of the most important leg in sports this weekend.

Will the ankle affect Mahomes’ play on Sunday?

There is no possible way that Mahomes will be 100 percent against the Bengals. They are going to test that ankle by trying to apply the same type of pressure that disrupted the Buffalo Bills during the Bengals’ Divisional Round win on Sunday. However, if he can move around all game as well as he has been in practice, he will be able to play well enough for the Chiefs to have a chance at victory.

We’ve received the closeup and overhead views of Mahomes’ health. All that is left is the view at Arrowhead Stadium from the CBS cameras at 6:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 29, 2023.

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