Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Pittsburgh Steelers Add Brian Flores To Its Black Coaching Fiefdom

The NFL has an issue hiring Black coaches. Mike Tomlin does not.

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Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores smiles on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, on Nov. 28, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Pittsburgh Steelers hired the former Miami Dolphins coach on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, to serve as a senior defensive assistant. The hiring comes less than three weeks after Flores sued the NFL and three teams over alleged racist hiring practices following his dismissal by Miami in January.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores smiles on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, on Nov. 28, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Pittsburgh Steelers hired the former Miami Dolphins coach on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, to serve as a senior defensive assistant. The hiring comes less than three weeks after Flores sued the NFL and three teams over alleged racist hiring practices following his dismissal by Miami in January.
Photo: Doug Murray, File (AP)

Brian Flores, the Black coach who has become the symbol of standing against racism in the NFL because of his discrimination lawsuit, has landed a new gig as linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The hiring puts him on the staff of Mike Tomlin, the winningest Black head coach in NFL history and who was, for a brief time after the firing of Flores by the Miami Dolphins and of David Culley by the Houston Texans, was the only Black head coach in the NFL.

It also highlights how having a black executive at the helm makes a difference in hiring throughout an organization, even in a league embattled over racism in hiring practices. Including Flores and Tomlin himself, the Steelers’ coaching staff is now majority Black, with 10 out of a total of 18 coaching positions now held by Black coaches, according to the team’s web site. The Steelers have also interviewed three non-white candidates, including ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, for its soon-to-be-vacant general manager position, which could make it the NFL’s only team to start next season with both a Black head coach and general manager as the top executives leading the organization.

The Steelers’ Flores hire adds yet another plot twist to an offseason that has centered the persistent lack of diversity in the NFL’s executive ranks.

The Dolphins fired Flores in January on the ironically nicknamed ‘Black Monday’, the day after the last regular season game when head coaches are traditionally fired if their teams underperform. Flores’ sacking was a surprise because he was viewed as successful, having two winning seasons of his three at the helm.

After several interviews for new head coaching jobs, Flores dropped a bombshell lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Dolphins and the Denver Broncos, alleging that the NFL maintains a glass ceiling to keep Black coaches and execs from ascending and that his interviews were shams to comply with the league’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview nonwhite candidates for executive roles, including head coach. The rule is named after the Rooney family, which founded and still owns the Steelers.

Among the developments since the suit was filed: last week, Flores’ attorney said they plan to add the Houston Texans to the list of teams named in the lawsuit after they also interviewed him as a possible replacement for Culley but instead promoted Lovie Smith, a Black assistant coach, only after Flores sued the league. The NFL, meanwhile, hired Loretta Lynch, the first Black woman US attorney general, as one of the lead attorneys to lead its defense against Flores’ lawsuit.