Wigdor LLP, a prominent New York-based litigation law firm, has commented on the Carolina Panthers’ decision to hire Frank Reich on Thursday.
Reich, who served as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2018 until midway through the 2022 season, was chosen from a candidate pool that included Steve Wilks, who went 6-6 as the Panthers’ interim head coach in 2022.
Wilks, who is Black, was one of the reported finalists for the job, but the Panthers went with Reich instead. Wigdor LLP, which represented Brian Flores, Wilks and others in their class action racial discrimination suit filed against the NFL last year, released a scathing statement after Carolina announced Reich as its next head coach.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
The Wigdor law firm statement has sparked plenty of reaction on social media.
“The NFL’s race problem when it comes to hiring head coaches is still here…and I believe Steve Wilks is a plaintiff in the lawsuit Brian Flores filed last year,” said one observer.
“He brought a 1-4 team to 7-10. Playoff contention? When they were 3-8, 5-9?” asked a skeptical commenter. “His previous job as a head coach, he went 3-13 and was fired after one season. Frank Reich went 37-28 from 2018-2021 as HC of the Colts, despite having 4 different QB’s and made 2 playoff appearances.”
“None of those verbs are actual proof of discriminatory intent however. And that’s a problem with your case,” another account chimed in.
“Steve Wilks had a three-hour job interview. It was Jan. 1 in Raymond James Stadium. His team melted down. That was it,” argued college football writer Matt Smith.
“Wilks not going down quietly here,” said Trey Crosby, another attorney.
We’ll see what Wilks and his lawyers’ next moves are.