Brian Flores Hired by Steelers as Defensive Assistant Amid Lawsuit Against NFL

Adam WellsFebruary 19, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins walks the field prior to the game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Amid his lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 teams alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices, Brian Flores has been hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers announced Saturday that Flores will join Mike Tomlin's staff as senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.

Flores filed a class-action lawsuit on Feb. 1 in United States district court in New York. He said that his interview with the New York Giants about their head coaching vacancy was a "sham" to satisfy the Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching positions.

In his lawsuit, Flores presented a text message he received from Bill Belichick regarding the Giants job before his interview took place.

Ari Meirov @MySportsUpdate

Former <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> HC Brian Flores is suing the NFL and the Giants alleging racism in their hiring process. Flores has texts from Bill Belichick congratulating him for getting the job β€” but Flores had yet to interview. The text was meant for Brian Daboll. <a href="https://t.co/gmPUw9gHIq">https://t.co/gmPUw9gHIq</a> <a href="https://t.co/tyTztTf3br">pic.twitter.com/tyTztTf3br</a>

New York denied any wrongdoing. The Giants hired Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to replace Joe Judge as head coach.

Flores' lawsuit said Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him an incentive to lose games during the 2019 season to improve their draft position. He also alleged that Ross tried to pressure him into recruiting a "prominent quarterback" at the end of the 2019 season by violating the league's tampering rules.

Ross has denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit. The Dolphins fired Flores on Jan. 10 after three seasons. He went 24-25 overall but had winning records in each of the past two years.

The NFL has hired former United States attorney general Loretta Lynch to defend itself and its teams in Flores' lawsuit.

Flores' attorneys issued the following statement Saturday after the Steelers announced he was joining Tomlin's staff:

WigdorLaw @WigdorLaw

Below is a statement from Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis, attorneys for Brian Flores, regarding Coach Flores' new position with the <a href="https://twitter.com/steelers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@steelers</a>.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BrianFlores?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BrianFlores</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFL</a> <a href="https://t.co/g31dNJPxZW">pic.twitter.com/g31dNJPxZW</a>

Flores did interview with the Houston Texans about their head coaching vacancy, which was ultimately filled by Lovie Smith. Flores' attorneys, Douglas Wigdor and John Elefterakis, issued a statement after Smith's hiring that was critical of the Texans' process:

"Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores' goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL. However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans' head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL."

Texans general manager Nick Caserio told reporters that Flores' lawsuit "didn't affect" their decision to go with Smith.

Flores has been a coach in the NFL every season since 2008. He began his professional career in the Patriots' scouting department in 2004 before being promoted to special teams assistant on Belichick's staff in 2008.

The 40-year-old will work alongside Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in 2022.