Pittsburgh Steelers senior defensive assistant Brian Flores was picked as a person to root for by NFL.com’s Jim Trotter in his list of 32 players, coaches or staff members to root for in the 2022 NFL season. Trotter selected Flores because of his ongoing lawsuit addressing allegations of racial bias in hiring practices among NFL head coaches.
”How can you not respect a man who, in an attempt to eliminate alleged racial bias among NFL teams when hiring head coaches, put his career and livelihood on the line by suing the league?” wrote Trotter.
Flores was fired by the Miami Dolphins last season after going 24-25 with them from 2019-21 on the back of a strong defense. His peak season came in 2020 when he coached the Dolphins to a 10-6 record and the league’s fourth-best scoring defense. Last season, the Dolphins started 1-7 but then won seven straight games and finished the season 9-8. It was the first time that the Dolphins had won back-to-back games since 2003.
Flores is suing the Dolphins and accused owner Stephen Ross for incentivizing losing during Flores’ first season at the helm. He also accused Ross of tampering by trying to get Flores to recruit a “prominent quarterback” at the end of the 2019 season despite the quarterback still being under contract with another team. Flores alleges that Ross tricked him into meeting with the quarterback on a yacht and when Flores refused that meeting, he was “treated with disdain and held out as someone who was non-compliant and difficult to work with.”
Flores’ suit also addresses the way he was treated by those interviewing him for a head coach position. The New York Giants and Denver Broncos, Flores alleges, only interviewed him to satisfy the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for their open positions. Two more coaches have since joined the lawsuit that names the NFL, Giants, Broncos, Doplhins, Arizon Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans as defendants.
Flores lawsuit has received support from many in the league as it tackles what has been an unspoken issue since the Rooney Rule was put into place, that teams already have their next coach in mind prior to interviewing a minority candidate. In addition to the support he has received, his lawsuit has also led to change in the league as the NFL recently passed a rule to force teams to have at least one minority or female coach on their offensive staff. The intention behind that rule is that it’ll lead to more minority candidates getting experience that they can then use to win a head coaching job.