Brian Flores’ time in the NFL isn’t up yet. After suing the league for racial discrimination in a class action lawsuit earlier this month following his firing from the Miami Dolphins and an alleged sham interview with the New York Giants, Flores has been hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
Of the three Black head coaches in the NFL last season, Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin was the only one not fired. It took remarkable courage for Flores to sue the American institution known for burying any threat against their product (see: CTE, Daniel Snyder, etc), and many believed that his time in the NFL would be over, as no team would want to hire him in the midst of the lawsuit. It appeared that Flores had sacrificed any hope of an NFL career in order to make a change.
But Tomlin has taken the step few thought anyone would take again — by hiring Flores, he’s not only showing faith in his coaching ability, but also standing by him as he takes on the NFL and showing solidarity with Flores’ cause, if not actually joining onto the lawsuit as a plaintiff.
Flores, who was head coach of the Dolphins from 2019 to 2021, served in a variety of assistant coach roles with the New England Patriots from 2008 to 2018, including as a defensive assistant and a linebackers coach. He interviewed with several teams during this hiring cycle for head coaching positions, but was passed over by the Giants, Texans, and Saints, despite overachieving with a terrible Dolphins roster that was expected to win zero games his first year, as well as winning nine of his last 11 games in the 2021 season.
In a statement, Tomlin said: “I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL. Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
The Steelers are owned by the third generation of the Rooney family. Pittsburgh’s seven-year defensive coordinator retired this year, prompting the staff changes as the defense has fallen in league rankings in recent seasons.
With this hire, Tomlin is refusing to allow the league to entirely blackball Flores and is gaining an excellent defensive mind for his coaching staff.