From quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announcing his retirement to general manager Kevin Colbert revealing his plans to step down from that position, this has already been a busy offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they decided to make it a little bit busier by adding a coach to their staff who is currently filing a lawsuit against the NFL.
That would be new Senior Defensive Assistant Brian Flores, who spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins before being fired at the end of the 2021 season. He went on several interviews for the nine vacant head coaching positions, and came away from that process believing all the more that it was the right thing to do to take the actions that he has.
He acknowledged that it could have led to him being blackballed by owners, since you generally don’t hire people who are suing you, which is why there has been so much attention paid to the Steelers’ decision to hire him. But owner Art Rooney II, speaking with Andrew Stockey for WTAE, explained that that was not their motivation.
“No, I don’t want to characterize it as a statement”, he said in an interview that aired tonight. “Look, we feel good about hiring people who are qualified to come in and help us, no matter what their race, color. And so, I think it’s consistent with the practices we’ve had over the years here at our organization”.
To hear Flores tell the story, he phoned up Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to seek his counsel, and that conversation ultimately led to the job offer that he received. It’s not likely that that’s how it happened, exactly, from the Steelers’ perspective, of course. They were already aware of his availability, as everybody else was, when he got fired. It didn’t suddenly occur to them that he could be on their staff when he phoned up Tomlin. And that means they contemplated all the implications that followed.
“Look, there’s no question there’s the potential for some awkward situations, but, look, his attorneys are handling that”, Rooney said when it came to Flores’ lawsuit becoming an issue for the team down the road. “The league’s attorneys will be involved in things like that”.
“That’s really not happening in this building. And coach Flores is focused on doing what he needs to do to help us be a championship team”, he added. “And so, that’s what we expect and that’s what the focus is gonna be in this building”.
With defensive coordinator Keith Butler retiring and defensive assistant Teryl Austin being promoted into that role, there was an open spot in the Steelers’ coaching staff that they felt Flores could ably fill. As we’ve assumed all along, that is first and foremost why he’s here; anything else is, at best, and if anything, a secondary concern.