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Mike Tomlin Didn’t Want Brian Flores to Fight for Change in NFL Alone



Steelers Assistant Brian Flores

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not want Brian Flores to feel that he was alone in his battle to change the racial disparity in NFL hiring practices, which led to Flores joining Tomlin’s staff in Pittsburgh.

When Brian Flores stuck his neck out and sued the NFL for racial discrimination, it was feared that he may never coach in the NFL again. With the hiring practices scrutinized in the lawsuit, Flores sought to make a statement that was bigger than him. However, the Steelers and Mike Tomlin came calling a short time later, and while Flores did not get a head coaching title or even defensive coordinator title, he did land back in the NFL with Pittsburgh.

At the time that the Flores lawsuit reached a fervor and broke to the public, Tomlin was the only black head coach in the NFL. In many ways, it was easy to see why Flores would think he would be on an island. However, Tomlin was willing to make sure that was not going to happen to Flores. With the circumstances surrounding situations, Tomlin felt he had the situation to help Flores and hire him.

“I wanted to stay close to Brian when his legal issues started,” Tomlin said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “I just didn’t want him to feel like he was on an island. From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. … I was in a position to provide that.”

As such, that led Flores to the Steelers. Flores’ lawsuit is still actively ongoing against the NFL. Receiving plenty of support at the NFL Combine, Flores felt more embraced after being hired. Tomlin, with the platform and situation he was in, was hoping he could make a positive impact in some way on Flores and the NFL.

“To have an opportunity to impact the game in a positive way, to impact society in a positive way,” Tomlin said via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “It’s continually an honor to be a part of something that the Rooney family started and led for a long time before my existence here.”

Flores will now hold the title of senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Steelers. While he is likely to do big things in Pittsburgh, if his past resume says anything, Pittsburgh should only be a pit stop for Flores.

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