As the interim head coach, Steve Wilks took a 1-4 Carolina Panthers team (that just traded Christian McCaffrey) back into playoff contention, going 6-6 in the team’s final 12 games.
On Thursday, the Panthers announced the hiring of Frank Reich to be their next head coach.
Wigdor LLP represents Wilks and is representing Brian Flores in his race discrimination lawsuit against the NFL after the former Miami Dolphins head coach said he felt front offices were interviewing Black candidates simply to fulfill the Rooney Rule, rather than give them a serious shot at job opportunities.
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After Reich was hired despite Wilks getting a second interview with Carolina to drop the interim tag, the law firm ripped the Panthers for their decision.
“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 [CEO] David Tepper,” they said in a statement obtained Fox News Digital.
“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.”
Several players had spoken very highly of Wilks, with Derrick Brown recently saying everyone wanted him back.
“I’ll speak for everybody in that locker room in saying we want Coach Wilks to be our next head coach. That’s for sure,” he told “Good Morning Football.”
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Reich was fired by the Indianapolis Colts midway through this season after a 3-5-1 start – in 2021, the Colts lost their final two games to miss out on the playoffs.
Reich was the first quarterback to take a snap for Carolina when they became an expansion team in 1995 – he went 40-33-1 with the Colts, which was his first head-coaching gig.
The 61-year-old was also the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles during their Super Bowl LII run.
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With the Houston Texans firing Lovie Smith right at season’s end, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin is the only Black head coach in the NFL.
Wilks was fired from the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 after one season and replaced by Kliff Kingsbury, who was just let go after this season.