INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL was rocked when Brian Flores announced he was suing the NFL for racial discrimination after his firing by the Miami Dolphins this offseason. The former Dolphins head coach alleged that the Giants’ interview was rigged against him and that he was bribed to tank while coach of the Dolphins. While he was a finalist for the Texans job, Flores was not hired in favor of Lovie Smith. The Texans have since been amended and added to Flores’s lawsuit.
The Rooney Rule, created by late Steelers owner Dan Rooney, has been scrutinized in light of the Flores lawsuit. It has caused the league and the coaches within it to retrospectively look at the dynamics of their hiring practices. More importantly, somehow, the racial disparity amongst NFL coaches must be changed.
There have been many solutions proposed to it, but Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera believes there has to be better communication among prospective coaches and the league. In a game of connections, Rivera believes minorities are not given the platform and conduits to develop those connections and relationships.
“The biggest thing about this is that the situations have been brought to light,” Rivera said. “Let’s not ignore that. We need to figure out how to crack these problems. We have to create a positive set of circumstances in the hiring process. We must improve the numbers. One of the best things is let’s see if we can build familiarity. I have a friend that is in sales. One of the things he preaches is that they have to get to know, they have to get to like you, and they have to trust you. That’s what we need to do. We have to create those avenues where every candidate gets in front of people before the process starts. This period between now and summer break, we need to create platforms where these guys can meet and visit the decision-makers.”
The Texans nearly did hire Flores. Nick Caserio knew Flores well from his time with the Patriots, but still, Flores was not able to land the job. When pushed on the topic Tuesday, Caserio affirmed he had full control of it with no interference from Cal McNair. The two finalists were reportedly Josh McCown and Flores before Smith came out of nowhere as a name.
“Brian is a great coach,” Caserio said. I know he’ll do great things with the Steelers…ultimately, in the end, just felt Lovie made the most sense for our team and situation at that time. Ultimately, Cal put it on my shoulders to make the decision I felt was best and to bring candidates to the table. Cal was very supportive and open.”
Flores did end up getting a job in Pittsburgh. That did not go unnoticed by some in the league. Former Steleers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians effusively praised the Steelers for bringing Flores in as a coach. While he believes it is a great move, Arians hopes that it is a mere stepping stone for Flores to get back into the head coaching ranks.
“I thought it was a great move,” Arians said. “We practiced against Coach Flo down in Miami. He’s a hell of a dude and coach. He needs to be a head coach in this league. I think Mike does a great job. He brought on a hell of a football coach. It will help the Steelers organization.”
With the Steelers’ hire of Flores, he will be the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach. As Arians said, Flores should be a head coach. He is massively overqualified for the role he now has in Pittsburgh. However, Colbert and Tomlin are extremely excited to bring Flores aboard. His entire background and resume speak for themselves as a body of work.
“Coach Tomlin came to me and said I think I’m going to add Coach Flores,” Colbert said. “I said that would be awesome. Brian Flores is a successful NFL head coach and defensive coordinator. I was excited to have him. As I mentioned to Coach Flores when he first came into the office, I really like his background, because he started in the personnel world. So some of the experiences and beliefs that he has from personnel, as well as coaching, can really help us.”
Flores is an addition to a Steelers staff that includes Teryl Austin, Grady Brown, Karl Dunbar, and Jerry Olsavsky. He is the likely replacement for Keith Butler and will mostly work with the Steelers’ front seven.
While the calls for change remain, the Steelers will hope to reap the benefits of being the team bold enough to make the move to add Flores to their staff.