On Thursday, Broncos president of football operations John Elway said recent allegations made by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores were "false and defamatory" and that he "interviewed Brian in good faith" for Denver's vacant head-coach opening in 2019.
"While I was not planning to respond publicly to the false and defamatory claims by Brian Flores, I could not be silent any longer with my character, integrity and professionalism being attacked," Elway said in a statement. "I took Coach Flores very seriously as a candidate for our head coaching position in 2019 and enjoyed our three-and-a-half hour interview with him. Along with the rest of our group, I was prepared, ready and fully engaged during the entire interview as Brian shared his experience and vision for our team. It's unfortunate and shocking to learn for the first time this week that Brian felt differently about our interview with him.
"For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong. If I appeared 'disheveled,' as he claimed, it was because we had flown in during the middle of the night -- immediately following another interview in Denver -- and were going on a few hours of sleep to meet the only window provided to us.
"I interviewed Brian in good faith, giving him the same consideration and opportunity as every other candidate for our head coaching position in 2019."
Flores, who is Black, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court against the NFL and three of its teams -- the Broncos, Dolphins and Giants -- alleging a pattern of racist hiring practices by the league and racial discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that the Broncos interviewed Flores only to fulfill the Rooney Rule and that then-Denver general manager Elway, CEO Joe Ellis and others arrived an hour late to the interview and appeared "disheveled" and "it was obvious that they had [been] drinking heavily the night before."
Denver previously said in a statement Tuesday that Flores' allegations are "blatantly false" and that its "process was thorough and fair to determine the most qualified candidate for our head coaching position." The Broncos hired Vic Fangio, who is white, as head coach in 2019, and fired him last month after three seasons.
In response to the Broncos' statement, Flores said Wednesday on ESPN's Get Up!, "I deal in truth, that's my reaction. I deal in truth. Honesty, integrity is important to me, and hopefully, there's a day we find out the truth on that one."
In 2020, the NFL amended the Rooney Rule to stipulate teams must interview at least two minority candidates not associated with their own team for a head coaching vacancy. Also, one minority candidate has to be interviewed for coordinator positions as well as high-ranking positions in the front office, including the general manager role.