Brian Flores didn’t expect to get a job offer to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers when he called head coach Mike Tomlin late last week.
He was simply seeking advice on how to get back into the coaching profession after filing a class action lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams a few weeks earlier.
Two days later, the Steelers announced the hiring of Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, as senior defensive assistant in charge of linebackers.
Flores detailed his journey to join the Steelers in an interview with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”
“It all happened really fast,” Flores said in the interview.
Flores said he called Tomlin — one of only three black head coaches in the NFL — on Thursday night. They spoke again on Friday, and Flores accepted the job offer that night. The Steelers announced the hiring Saturday afternoon.
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“Actually, you know, I was calling coach – coach T, really for advice,” Flores said. “I was thinking about the next steps for me purely from a training perspective. And then that conversation turned into an opportunity there in Pittsburgh.
Gumbel asked Flores if Tomlin threw a “lifeline” at her.
“I’m a very…capable coach in this league,” Flores said. “But I feel like he saw a situation where there was…a very…experienced coach who could help his staff, who was also a black coach in the league. And I think that’s what we’re talking about.
Flores was in the running for head coaching jobs with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints when his lawsuit was filed. Houston hired Lovie Smith, who is black, and New Orleans hired Dennis Allen, who is white.
“I was disappointed,” Flores said. “I think there is a lack of representation of black and minority coaches in the National Football League.”
When Houston’s Flores and David Culley were fired after the 2021 season, it left Tomlin as the NFL’s only black coach. Smith was hired by Houston and Miami hired Mike McDaniel, who is multiracial.
Joining Flores in the interview with Gumbel were his attorneys, Douglas Wigdor and John Elefterakis.
They said Flores’ trial was scheduled for Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, even though he was still a candidate in New Orleans and Houston.
“I did it because I felt there was power in showing how important this topic was,” Flores said.
The episode aired at 10 p.m. Tuesday.