Brian Flores says he lost Texans head coaching job due to NFL lawsuit

Flores was considered a frontrunner for the position when he filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the NFL

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The Houston Texans hired a Black head coach, but that coach isn’t Brian Flores. The former Miami Dolphins coach says that he believes he would have gotten the job if not for the federal discrimination lawsuit he filed on Feb.1.

In the lawsuit, Flores, 40, alleges that the NFL practice a pattern of discrimination that keeps Black coaches from being hired to head coaching positions. He also named two teams – the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos as teams he alleges specifically discriminated against him in the hiring process.

As of now, there are only two NFL head coaches who are Black – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and newly hired Texans coach Lovie Smith. Smith, the defensive coordinator for the Texans last year replaces his head coach, David Culley, who is one of the coaches named in Flores’ suit.

Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins
Head coach Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins looks on before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Culley didn’t receive a head coach offer until he was 65 years old after a 45-year football coaching career, including 27 years in the NFL.

Flores says while he’s happy the Texans hired a Black head coach. His 58-page lawsuit which alleges a pattern of current and past discrimination likely took him out of the running.

Through his legal team, Flores issued a statement that read, “Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores’ goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL.”

In the statement, Flores says he believed he was in the lead to get the job.

“We would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position,” his lawyers continued, “and, after a great interview and mutual interest it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL.”

Smith, 63, is one of the few Black men with NFL head coaching experience, compiling a 144-81 record coaching the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012. In 2005, he won Coach of the Year.

In 2007, he took the Bears to the Super Bowl, where they ultimately lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith was the first Black man to coach a Super Bowl team. Tony Dungy was the second the same year, and the two were the first Black coaches to oppose each other in the big game.

Smith had another chance at head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 but only lasted two seasons after an 8-24 record.

Though Flores’s lawyers refer to “strong mutual interest and a great interview” Texans GM Nick Caserio says that the lawsuit had nothing to do with their decision not to hire Flores.

“There were conversations with Brian after [the lawsuit] took place, so it really didn’t affect our process at all,” Caserio said at the Texans press conference introducing Smith as the new head coach, per ESPN.

Smith acknowledged the historic nature of his hire as he becomes the rare Black man to be a head coach for three different NFL teams.

Los Angeles Rams v Houston Texans
Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans on Oct. 31, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

“I don’t know if there’s a guy who looks like me that’s had the opportunity to do that,” he said at the press conference.

“… It’s not just about me being here. I see [offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton right here and I see his color. He’s going to be calling plays for us. Maybe it’s about getting guys in the position for people to see exactly who they are and what they can do. I understand the problem and I know the Houston Texans are doing something about it to make it better.”

However, as it often happens to African Americans in other industries, Smith is being brought in to fix a bad situation. The Texans are a troubled team that played the 2021-22 football season without their best player, sidelined quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose future is uncertain after 22 sexual misconduct cases continue to wind their way through civil court.

“In time, things work themselves out, there’s a lot of things we have to get through with that,” Smith told Good Morning Football, per Texans Daily.

Flores is unlikely to get a head coaching nod this season as the seven available jobs, aside from the Dolphins, were filled. Aside from Smith, only 49’ers former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who identifies as multiracial, was hired as a head coach, replacing Flores in Miami.

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