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Mike Tomlin Comments on Brian Flores Hire: ‘I Just Didn’t Want Him to Feel Like He Was On an Island’

Mike Tomlin commented on the Steelers‘ hiring of Brian Flores for the first time on Sunday following the addition of the ex-Dolphins coach to Pittsburgh’s defensive staff.

Flores, who had filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the NFL and three teams alleging discrimination in their hiring practices on Feb. 1, was brought aboard as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Steelers later that month. However, Tomlin made clear that he wanted to stand by Flores immediately after he filed the lawsuit. 

From there, conversations between the two coaches developed into a job offer for Flores, who was officially hired by Pittsburgh on Feb. 19.

“I wanted to stay close to Brian when his legal issues started,” Tomlin said during a press conference Sunday. “I just didn’t want him to feel like he was on an island. I think from a coaching fraternity standpoint I owed him that. I was in a position to provide that. I think that started our interactions and conversations. Over the course of those discussions, particularly when it became evident that he was not going to get a head job, I think the natural discussion began and it really ran its course rather quickly to be quite honest with you. It doesn’t require a lot of time to come to the realization that you could use a Brian Flores on your staff. I was so excited that he shared the same level of enthusiasm about being a part of us as we were about potentially acquiring him. It’s been really good.”

Tomlin explained that Flores will hold the official title of senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach, but that he’s expecting the former Dolphins head coach to provide far more to the Steelers. Specifically, Tomlin thinks he could learn a thing or two from the 41-year-old Flores, who is considered to be one of the brightest defensive minds in the NFL.

“Senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach is his title. But there’s so many ways that he’s going to help us and help me in particular, I love sharpening my sword on his and gaining a perspective that his experiences provide,” Tomlin said. “That wise counsel. We’re talking about a myriad of things. Whether it’s calendar, whether it’s taking care of players, whether it’s the acquisition and evaluation of talent. It’s been fun to have him. His contributions are going to be significant.”

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Flores was fired from the Dolphins at the end of the 2021 season and was replaced by former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel after posting an overall record of 24–25 in Miami. Prior to his stint as a head coach, he worked under Bill Belichick for 11 seasons in a variety of assistant roles.

Flores‘s lawsuit against the league, Dolphins, Giants and Broncos remains unresolved at this time.

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