Updated: Feb 23
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Despite a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams over alleged racial discrimination in hiring practices, the Steelers hired Brian Flores as their senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach on Saturday.
It's a fantastic hire by Mike Tomlin, as Flores will be a great asset to the defensive staff. Credit to Art Rooney II also for approving this move. Not a lot of owners would have with Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL.
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.
Rooney and the Steelers organization got a lot of praise for making a bold statement by hiring Flores.
"The Rooney family is HOF," Joe Haden tweeted.
Robert Griffin III also tweeted, "If there was going to be one team to hire Brian Flores it would be the team that helped implement the Rooney Rule. Good on you Pittsburgh Steelers."
While it's great that Flores is getting another coaching opportunity. He is still completely overqualified to be a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach. Flores should be a head coach in the NFL. But this is the best move for him for the time being. Credit to Flores for being humble enough to accept the position.
I mean, Flores led the Dolphins to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003 and was fired. The Dolphins were in complete shambles when he took over, too. If it wasn't for the lawsuit, Flores would have a head coaching job with another team right now. However, Flores knows that it's bigger than just him. If it's true that Stephen Ross was offering Flores $100,000 for every loss in 2019 so the Dolphins could get a better draft pick, Ross should be kicked out of the league. The sham interviews also need to stop.
“God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals,” Flores said in a statement released by his law firm. “My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”
Even with being hired by the Steelers, Flores has no intention of discontinuing his lawsuit.
“We congratulate Coach Flores on his new position with the Steelers and thank Coach Tomlin and the organization for giving him this great opportunity,” Flores' lawyers Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said in a joint statement. “While Coach Flores is now focused on his new position, he will continue with his race discrimination class action so that real change can be made in the NFL.”
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, 40, is a Brooklyn native and 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.
There's a ton of knowledge on the defensive side of the ball with Tomlin, Teryl Austin and Flores. It should be interesting to see if Tomlin still calls the plays on defense, as he supposedly did with Keith Butler as the defensive coordinator. Perhaps Tomlin will split the duty up between Austin and Flores.
It's also interesting that Flores and Minkah Fitzpatrick are now reunited in Pittsburgh. Flores and Fitzpatrick did not have a great relationship when the two were together with the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick thought Flores was moving him around too much and asked to be traded. That's how Fitzpatrick ended up in Pittsburgh after the Steelers gave up a first-round pick for him in September of 2019. I don't think it will be an issue, as it's probably water under the bridge now.
Fitzpatrick also thought the Dolphins were tanking, which he might be right about. Flores could have been getting pressured by Ross. So, it could have been a toxic environment all around.
Along with playing the Dolphins in Miami, the Steelers also play the Patriots at Heinz Field in 2022. Those two games are matchups to circle, especially with Flores returning to Miami.
All in all, Tomlin and Rooney simply did the right thing by hiring Flores. He shouldn't be blackballed by the league over a legal matter. This is also a way for Flores to get back into the head coaching ranks. It's a perfect fit all around. And like RG3 said, it's fitting that it's the Steelers who hired Flores when possibly no one else would have.