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Brian Flores Focused on Steelers, Family, Not Lawsuit against NFL



Steelers SDA Brian Flores

PITTSBURGH — New senior defensive assistant Brian Flores is thankful for the opportunity to coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is focused on his role leading the team’s defense and his home life as a husband and father, and not his pending lawsuit against the NFL.

Flores was fired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins early this offseason. Afterward, Flores filed a lawsuit against the Dolphins and the NFL, alleging racial bias in the way teams and the league treat minority coaches. After Flores filed the lawsuit, many suspected that Flores would never coach in the league again, but a phone call to Mike Tomlin changed all that.

“I have a great deal of respect for Mike, really, all the coaches on the staff, and really everyone in this organization,” Flores said on Wednesday. “He’s someone I consider a friend, someone I go to for wisdom and counsel. But I’ve found that in a lot of people on this staff and in this organization. So it’s really an honor to work here and be a part of this.”

Flores didn’t answer questions about his thoughts on the still-pending lawsuit or his future in the NFL, preferring to talk about his opportunity with the Steelers at this time.

“I try to live in the moment and not think about things that have happened in the past or really look too far into the future,” he said. “I’m just excited about being here because in Pittsburgh, working with these players, these coaches and being in this organization.”

Flores was appreciated of the steps that the league has taken since his lawsuit to increase diversity around the league’s coaches and executive ranks by expanding the Rooney Rule to include quarterback coaches and funding for teams to hire an additional minority offensive coach.

“I think anytime you to create a situation where guys get opportunity, I’m all for that,” Flores said. “I’ll kind of leave it there.

Instead of focusing on his lawsuit, his past as an NFL head coach and an uncertain future of whether he will be given the opportunity to be one again, Flores is just enjoying diving into coaching the Steelers defense along with Tomlin, coordinator Teryl Austin and the rest of the staff.

“This experience being in Pittsburgh over the last few months has been a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, around a lot of great people. It’s a great city. I’m just excited to get going. Obviously, I try to keep my focus day to day. So I’m excited about today’s practice. But as I look into the future a little bit on the one minute a day that I do that, I’m excited about being in Pittsburgh.”

Flores detailed in his lawsuit the treatment that he found unacceptable from Dolphins ownership, and also how other organizations treated interviews with minority candidates as a box to check to satisfy Rooney Rule requirements and not a serious endeavor. With Pittsburgh, he sees a different kind of franchise.

“This is a great organization, with a lot of history, a lot of great coaches and great ownership,” Flores said. “Excited to play a role and be a small part of helping this team build.”

Flores is nominally the team’s linebackers coach, but as senior defensive assistant, will essentially be a second coordinator to work under and with Austin and Tomlin, as Austin did the last few years with Keith Butler.

“Think I’m trying to help in any way I can,” he said. “That’s linebackers, obviously, but if it’s getting water, I’ll get water. Whatever it is, you know, to help the team win. That’s that’s what I’m about. And helping guys get better. Help anyone I can to be better. To me that’s coaching.”

Austin’ presence presaged changes to the Steelers defense, including more Cover 2 in the secondary. Known for his exotic blitzing schemes with New England and Miami, Flores’ arrival could be the impetus for a similar change to the way the Steelers front even operates, but he’s not letting on to what changes are in store just yet.

“We put guys in a room from different backgrounds, you get different ideas, different ways of thinking,” he said. “For me, it’s an opportunity to learn. Hopefully, I’m bringing something to the table that can help in a small way. … There’s a long history of very good defense here and a lot of great coaches who have done it at a high level for a long time. So, any way I can help continue that, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

After the Steelers wrap their three-day mandatory minicamp on Thursday, the team will have a month and a half off before reporting to training camp at St. Vincent College in late July. Even in that time, Flores doesn’t seem himself getting tied down with details about his lawsuit against the NFL or worrying about his future and whether he’ll return to a head coaching role.

“I’m going to pivot that focus right to my family,” Flores said. “This time has been exciting, but at the same time, I’m kind of going back and forth. You know, I’ve got a nine year old, eight year old and five year old, along with a wife who’s just tremendous. So most of my time and energy will be with them during this time off.

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