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Brian Flores, ex-Dolphins coach in legal action vs. NFL, hired by Steelers as an assistant

Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores joins the Steelers as an assistant coach. (AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)
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Brian Flores is back in the NFL, joining the staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant coach.

Flores, the former coach of the Miami Dolphins who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit earlier this month against the league and teams, was hired by the Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, the team announced Saturday.

He will work for Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, one of two active Black head coaches in the league.

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

Flores’s lawsuit will proceed, his attorneys said.

“We congratulate Coach Flores on his new position with the Steelers and thank Coach Tomlin and the organization for giving him this great opportunity,” lawyers Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said in a joint statement. “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.”

Flores filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, accusing the NFL and teams of discriminating against Black coaches and denying them equal opportunities. Flores named the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos while listing the 29 other NFL teams as potential defendants.

NFL hires Loretta Lynch for its defense of Brian Flores’s lawsuit

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden applauded Pittsburgh’s move, writing on Twitter: “The Steelers organization is FIRST CLASS.”

He was fired by the Dolphins last month after a second straight winning season. The NFL had three Black head coaches this past season but two of them were fired, Flores by the Dolphins and David Culley by the Houston Texans. Only one of the nine head coaching vacancies leaguewide this offseason was filled by a Black coach, with the Texans’ hiring of Lovie Smith. One other minority head coach was hired. The Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, who is multiracial.

Flores was a finalist for the Giants’ head coaching job this offseason that went to Brian Daboll. After his lawsuit was filed, he was a candidate for the vacancies of the Texans and New Orleans Saints. The Saints promoted their defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, to succeed Sean Payton as their coach.

The league and the teams named in Flores’s lawsuit denied his allegations. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in Inglewood, Calif., during Super Bowl week that the league won’t “take anything off the table” as it seeks to address its minority hiring issues.

Roger Goodell vows action on NFL minority hiring, says nothing is ‘off the table’

The NFL said this week that Loretta E. Lynch, a former U.S. attorney general, will be among the lawyers representing the league in Flores’s lawsuit. The league confirmed that it retained Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and that Lynch and Brad S. Karp, the firm’s chairman, will lead the defense. Lynch is a partner with the firm.

The league also has said it will investigate Flores’s tanking allegations in the lawsuit. He accused Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season in a failed attempt to secure the top overall choice in the 2020 NFL draft. Ross has denied the allegations.

Flores said he declined to participate in the scheme. The Dolphins went 5-11 that season and selected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Quarterback Joe Burrow went first overall that year to the Cincinnati Bengals and reached the Super Bowl in his second NFL season.

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