Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL just took a surprising turn as the Pittsburgh Steelers announced Saturday that the former Miami Dolphins head coach is joining their staff. For the 2022 season, Flores will begin working with the Steelers as the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
“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,” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said in a press release. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
Flores’ history in the NFL, however, has become the basis of a high-profile lawsuit filed earlier this month against the League, the New York Giants, the Miami Dolphins, and the Denver Broncos. The complaint alleges that in both hiring and firing tactics, the organization discriminates against Black coaches.
Flores, 40, filed the suit after being fired from the Dolphins in January after only three seasons and following an egregious slip-up made by Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, as Flores was preparing to interview for the head coaching job at the Giants that same month.
The lawsuit also contains screengrabs of text messages Belichick sent to Flores, thinking he had texted Brian Daboll.
“Sounds like you have landed—congrats!” Belichick wrote on Jan. 24.
“Did you hear something I didn’t hear?” Flores replied.
“Giants?!?!?!” Belichick responded.
“I interview on Thursday,” Flores texted. “I think I have a shot at it.”
But when Flores asked, “Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll,” Belichick realised his mistake.
“Sorry—I f*cked this up,” Belichick replied. “I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.”
In his complaint, Flores claims that he has often only been called in to interview for head coaching positions so the NFL can meet standards set by the Rooney Rule, an organizational policy meant to diversify hiring practices.
The pattern of behavior, Flores alleges in his complaint, reveals that the NFL is “rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers.”
Flores will now re-join the NFL payroll as he proceeds with his case. In his new position with the Steelers, who finished the 2021 season with a 9-7 record, Flores will join the only team in the league that employs a Black head coach, Mike Tomlin.