Legal representatives for Steve Wilks said Thursday they are "shocked and disturbed" that their client was not hired as the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Shortly after the Panthers officially tabbed Frank Reich as their man, Wigdor Law LLP -- a New York City-based law firm representing Wilks in his discrimination suit against the NFL -- made its own announcement over social media.
"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 firm posted on Twitter.
"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."
Wilks, 53, went 6-6 as the interim coach of the Panthers after replacing Matt Rhule, who was fired Oct. 10 after a 1-4 start.
Carolina finished with a 7-10 mark and has missed the playoffs in each of the five seasons since Tepper bought the franchise in 2018 for a then-NFL-record $2.275 billion.
Reich is viewed as an offensive-minded coach, which is in stark contrast to the Panthers' first four head coaches in franchise history. Wilks' background also was on defense.
On April 7, 2022, Wilks joined fellow Black coach Brian Flores in his discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. Wilks claimed at the time he was a "bridge coach" when he was fired by the Arizona Cardinals after one season and a 3-13 record in 2018.
"This lawsuit has shed further important light on a problem we all know exists, but that too few are willing to confront," Wilks said in his statement at the time. "Black coaches and candidates should have exactly the same ability to become employed, remain employed, as white coaches and candidates. That is currently not the case."
Flores filed the lawsuit last February against the NFL, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos along with John Doe Teams 1-29. He was fired by the Dolphins on Jan. 10, 2022 after a 24-25 record in three seasons as head coach.
--Field Level Media