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Pittsburgh Steelers hire Brian Flores after coach files racial discrimination suit against NFL

Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is returning to the National Football League as the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His return to the NFL comes after Flores filed a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the NFL, the New York Giants and other teams earlier this month.

“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 statement Saturday.

“Brian’s resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team,” Tomlin, who also happens to be the only Black head coach in the NFL, added.

Douglas H. Wigdor, Flores’ attorney, released a statement saying, “We congratulate Coach Flores on his new position with the Steelers and thank Coach Tomlin and the organization for giving him this great opportunity.”

“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,” Wigdor said.

Flores, who is Black with Honduran roots, has over 14 years of coaching experience in the NFL. He most recently served as the head coach for the Miami Dolphins between 2019 and 2021. He also worked in a personnel role for the New England Patriots from 2004 to 2007, the Steelers said in a press release.

Before joining the Patriots, Flores played football at Boston College as a linebacker from 1999 through 2002. 

In his three seasons with the Dolphins, he led the team to a 24-25 overall record and guided them to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Despite the victories, the Miami Dolphins fired Flores last month, a move that stunned many since Miami hadn’t posted consecutive above-average records since a run of seven straight winning seasons under Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt from 1997 to 2003.

Following the surprising termination, Flores became a top coaching prospect throughout the league and lined up an interview with the Giants.

But in the suit, Flores claimed he was forced to endure a phony interview with the Giants, adding he has an incriminating text message from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to prove it.

“Sorry … I double checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB,” Belichick texted Flores, according to the lawsuit.

The Giants did indeed go on to hire Daboll shortly after interviewing Flores.

The NFL denied Flores’ claims and said it would fight the suit.

“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” the league said in a statement.

“Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time,” it said. “We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”

The Giants have also said they interviewed Flores in good faith and nearly hired him.

The pending lawsuit is expected to moved forward as originally planned in hopes that it could possibly usher in long-term changes when it comes to diversity among the coaching ranks in the NFL.

David K. Li and Diana Dasrath contributed.

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