Mike Tomlin executed the Black power play that we needed to see in the NFL. While Brian Flores launched his lawsuit against the NFL, Tomlin is taking a chance that translates into the influence he has to turn the tide.
Flores, who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and three of its teams, is now the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course, Mike Tomlin was at the center of the hiring.
“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,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “Brian’s résumé speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin: “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. Brian's resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 19, 2022
Tomlin Exerts Black Power
The head coach of the Miami Dolphins for three seasons starting in 2019, Flores led the team to a 24-25 record. However, the Dolphins recently fired Flores with two years left on his contract.
The firing came as a surprise to many, since Flores had winning records in the past two seasons. Ironically, Flores was previously a longtime assistant coach for the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick. Flores, a Brooklyn native, was the defensive playcaller during his final season with the Pats, which concluded with a win in Super Bowl LIII.
Currently, the Steelers’ head coach is one of the only two NFL Black head coaches, and Tomlin stepped up to help validate the cause of Black coaches and not ostracize them for holding the league and its clubs accountable.
Shout out to the Rooneys and Mike Tomlin for hiring Brian Flores as Defensive Asst/LB Coach.
— Darius Butler (@DariusJButler) February 19, 2022
He also did what was best for the Steelers from an athletics performance standpoint. However, with the timing being off during the filing of the legal claim, Tomlin exerted his autonomy and is now a steward of the Black cause in the NFL.
The move is a checkmate of historical importance for the league and the perception of power.
For Tomlin to hire Flores, he provides a heavy flex that exonerates Flores’ indictment of the NFL system in exchange for his talent as a coach.
When Mike Tomlin see’s Brian Flores walk into the Steelers facility.. pic.twitter.com/0GAU2rGIU1
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) February 19, 2022
After being fired as head coach by the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 10, Flores sued the NFL and three teams for racial discrimination. He claimed Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offering him $100,000 for every loss in 2019.
Ross allegedly wanted the team to get a higher pick in the 2020 draft.
With 70 percent of NFL players being Black, Flores’ suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the league’s other Black head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, and quarterback coaches and general managers, as well as African-American candidates for those positions.
Flores’ lawsuit stands in opposition to the Rooney Rule, named after the late owner of the Steelers, Dan Rooney. Many believed that Flores would be out of the running for open coaching slots in the NFL due to his lawsuit, but he feels his sacrifice is worth it.
Mike Tomlin greeting Matt Canada and then Brian Flores at the first coaches meeting pic.twitter.com/yR1jrCtlUn
— Not Robert Griffin (@Pseudo_RGIII) February 19, 2022
The Worthy Sacrifice
The NFL has hired former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to defend the league in the lawsuit.
“This isn’t about me,” Flores said to NPR’s “The Limits with Jay Williams.” “This is about something that’s much bigger than me, which is a system in the NFL that, in my opinion, is broken as far as hiring practices for Black and minority coaches and minorities in general.
“Interviews that Blacks and minorities were going on, where we weren’t getting a true opportunity in those interviews to showcase our abilities,” said Flores. “To walk into an interview where a decision’s already been made, that was the tipping point for me.”
More news from our partners: