Pittsburgh Steelers Hire Brian Flores Amid His NFL Lawsuit

Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins coach who is suing the NFL and its 32 teams alleging discriminatory hiring practices toward Black candidates, was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a senior defensive assistant / linebackers coach, the team announced Saturday.

“I’m excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a team release. “Brian’s summary speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”

Flores was fired by the Dolphins in January, after leading the team to a 24-25 record in three seasons. On Feb. 1, he filed a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of Black coaching and general manager candidates whom he said have been subject to sham interviews, denied opportunities to lead teams and given unequal terms and conditions of employment.

Responding to the suit, the NFL said it “will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”

Flores’s lawyers, Douglas Wigdor and John Elefterakis, thanked Tomlin and the Steelers for what they called a “great opportunity” for Flores.

“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,” they added in their statement.

Tomlin is one of three Black head coaches in the NFL, along with Mike McDaniel of the Dolphins, who is multiracial, and Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans, both of whom were hired this month. The NFL’s Rooney Rule, which was implemented in 2003 to require teams to interview nonwhite candidates for head coaching and senior football executive positions, was named after Dan Rooney, whose family founded and owns the Steelers. Flores’s lawsuit called the provision well-intentioned, but added, “what is clear is that the Rooney Rule is not working.”

Flores played linebacker and safety at Boston College, and one of the roles he held during his 11-year tenure with the New England Patriots was coaching the linebackers, while he also ascended to defensive play-caller.

In Pittsburgh, he will work alongside Teryl Austin, who replaced Keith Butler as the team’s defensive coordinator earlier this month. Austin was one of the examples Flores named in his lawsuit, describing him as a longtime assistant who was “never given a chance” to be a head coach.

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