Updated: Feb 24, 2022
(Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Nothing was handed to Brian Flores in life or football. Everything was earned. Flores, who is a son of Honduran immigrants grew up in the projects in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y., and was introduced to the game of football by his uncle. Flores said on the "I Am Athlete" podcast recently that football saved his life.
When talking about his lawsuit against the NFL and three teams for racial discrimination hiring practices, Flores was asked by Brandon Marshall if he's getting paid for his final two years on his contract, and Flores said he isn't because he didn't sign off on a separation agreement. Flores didn't want to be silenced.
Flores and his legal team allege that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross presented Flores with the non-disclosure agreement. Ross denies the claims.
Flores says money is not an issue for him. It's about making a change in the culture of the NFL when it comes to hiring minority head coaches.
"This is important. This is a lot more important than money," Flores said. " ... When I made $20,000 as a scout in New England, I thought I was rich. I made $20,000 -- $663 every two weeks. I literally thought I was making it. My first real job. I slept on an air mattress, I was good."
Flores is a Bill Belichick prodigy, as he spent 11 seasons in New England in various roles prior to becoming the Dolphins head coach in 2019. Flores, 41, played at Boston College as a linebacker from 1999 through 2002. Flores got his start with the Patriots when he was 23 as a scouting assistant in 2004. Flores worked his way up the ranks and was the Patriots linebackers coach from 2016-2018.
Flores said on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that he called Mike Tomlin for advice to get back in the coaching ranks, and he ended up accepting a position as the Steelers' senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach just a few days later. It's a role that he's grossly overqualified for, but it's the best thing for him in the time being so he can become a head coach in the NFL again.
“I actually, you know, was callin’ coach — Coach T, really to get some counsel. I was thinking about the next steps for me just from a coaching standpoint," Flores said via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
According to Josina Anderson, Tomlin hiring Flores was expected. It's what many coaches behind the scenes were privately calling for. Tomlin is one of just three African-American head coaches in the NFL.
“I’m a very capable coach in this league," Flores said when asked by Gumbel whether Tomlin threw him a lifeline. "But I do feel like he saw a situation where there was a very experienced coach who could help his staff, who was also a Black coach in the league."
Flores said that God put him on this earth to coach football.
"There's actually no reason for me to coach football," Flores said. "My parents are immigrants, my dad played soccer. My uncle for whatever reason was driving around, there was a Pop Warner league and I said, 'Hey, let me play.' And boom, I fell in love with the game on that day. So, yeah, I'm gifted and I'm here to coach and make an impact."