In the immediate aftermath of the NFL Draft each season, there’s a lot of hope and optimism among all 32 fanbases across the NFL landscape.
With that hope and optimism comes a player, front office member, or coaching staff member that the media and the fanbase tends to lock onto as a feel-good story.
For Pittsburgh, that member is Senior Defensive Assistant/LB coach Brian Flores, according to NFL.com columnist Jim Trotter, who outlined 32 people to root for across the NFL landscape with one person from each team.
Flores, according to Trotter, was the easy choice.
“How can you not respect a man who, in an attempt to eliminate alleged racial bias among NFL teams when hiring head coaches, put his career and livelihood on the line by suing the league?” Trotter writes.
Flores found himself out of a job with the Miami Dolphins after leading that franchise to a 10-6 and 9-8 records in 2020 and 2021, which happened to mark the last two winning seasons in Dolphins’ history dating back to 2015, when Miami went 10-6 in 2016 under Adam Gase.
Of course, the fallout that ensued has shook up the league as Flores has sued the NFL citing racism and discrimination in its hiring practices, and accused Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100k per loss to tank away the season to improve draft picks. Flores was a finalist for the New York Giants’ job before New York hired Brian Daboll, igniting the firestorm that has descended upon the NFL after Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick mistakenly texted Flores to congratulate him on getting the Giants’ job before he had even interviewed, believing he was texting Daboll instead.
Without a job and likely going to be blackballed from the league, Flores landed on his feet with the Steelers, thanks in large part to Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin and the Rooney family.
Tomlin has been asked about the hiring of Flores a ton this offseason, but the longtime head coach discussed the hiring of Flores with a bit more candor during an appearance on the Bleav in Steelers show recently with Mark Bergin and one of his own former players, Ike Taylor.
“Because I’m in position to do so, and that makes me smile”, Tomlin said when asked why he hired Flores. “You work your tail off over the course of your career to be in position to do good when given an opportunity, and that, quite frankly, just seemed too much like ‘right’ for me.
“Now, aside from the ‘good’ component of it and providing a lifeline for someone that’s deserving, man, I got a really good football coach”, Tomlin added. “A guy that I believe is one of the best 32 in the world in this business. And I got this guy here as an assistant football coach. It’s incredible”.
Tomlin threw Flores a lifeline, ensuring he would be able to stay within the NFL coaching fraternity while also trying to enact change. Tomlin has worked his entire life to be in a position to provide opportunity for others, and that’s exactly what he did.
Now, with the focus largely on football at this point, it’s easy to root for Flores, who hopefully gets another crack at a defensive coordinator or head coaching role following his time in Pittsburgh, thanks in large part to the support from Tomlin.