The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Saturday that they have hired Brian Flores — the former Miami Dolphins head coach who filed a lawsuit against the NFL and several teams earlier this month over racist hiring practices — as their new senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach.
Flores joins a coaching staff lead by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, currently the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL (behind Bill Belichick) and — following Flores’ Dolphins firing and the Houston Texans’ recent hiring of Lovie Smith — one of only two black head coaches in the league.
“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. “Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
We have named Brian Flores as our senior defensive assistant/linebackers.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 19, 2022
Earlier this month, Flores was passed over for several head coaching jobs despite leading the Dolphins to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 20 years. After text messages between Flores and Belichick suggested that Brian Daboll was predestined as the next New York Giants coach — a job Flores had interviewed for — Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the Giants, Dolphins and Denver Broncos, claiming the league “remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers.”
“In certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation,” the lawsuit stated. “Its 32 owners— none of whom are Black — profit substantially from the labor of NFL players, 70% of whom are Black. The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line every Sunday, taking vicious hits and suffering debilitating injuries to their bodies and their brains while the NFL and its owners reap billions of dollars.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone that published Super Bowl Sunday, Flores and current NFLers like Marcedes Lewis and Kahlil McKenzie offered suggestions on how to improve the NFL’s diversity problem in both the front office and on the sidelines.
“The first thing, number one is Black ownership,” Flores insists. “We must have a seat at the owner’s table … there are no Black voices in those meetings.”
As for hiring practices, Flores noted, “Right now, the owners say, ‘hey I want this guy’… there really is no rhyme or reason. Nobody is looking at the different interviews to determine whether one guy interviewed better than the others. It really comes down to, ‘I am most comfortable with this coach, so that’s who we’re going to hire.’”
In a league-wide memo that followed Flores’ lawsuit, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell acknowledged that despite the league’s efforts to promote diversity and hire black head coaches — such as the ineffective Rooney Rule — “the results have been unacceptable.”
“Racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” Goodell wrote. “We have made significant efforts to promote diversity and adopted numerous policies and programs which have produced positive change in many areas, however we must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable. We will reevaluate and examine all policies, guidelines and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusion, including as they relate to gender.”