MOBILE, AL — The three finalists for the Houston Texans’ head coaching vacancy are former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, and former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Despite lawsuit, Brian Flores a finalist for Texans head coach
Flores has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos, alleging racial discriminatory practices in the league’s hiring and firing process. He accused the Giants of conducting a “sham interview” with him after the Dolphins fired him. Flores’ 58-page lawsuit also alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss in 2019 in hopes of tanking for the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Indeed, Flores informed the Texans and the New Orleans Saints of his legal plans.
Flores interviewed with the Saints in New Orleans at the Senior Bowl all-star game at a dinner that included general manager Mickey Loomis. He interviewed with the Texans in Houston.
The NFL is investigating Flores’ claims.
Details on Flores’ lawsuit vs. NFL
The Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos have all issued statements denying Flores’ accusations.
“We understand there are media reports stating the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully,” Ross said in a statement. “I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”
Miami fired Flores after going 24-25 in three seasons, finishing 8-1 over the final nine games of his tenure.
The lawsuit included screenshots of text messages Flores stated were from Bill Belichick.
The New England Patriots coach made a mistake and thought he was texting Brian Daboll, who got the Giants job. Instead, it was Flores he was texting with. Flores hadn’t interviewed yet with the Giants.
“I hear from Buffalo & NYG that you are the guy,” the text from Belichick stated. “Hope it works out if you want it to!” Then, Belichick wrote: “Sorry — I [expletive] this up. I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.”
Elway slams Flores in statement
Flores accused Broncos executives John Elway and Joe Ellis in a 2019 interview of showing up late and “looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had [been] drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job.”
Elway has denied all those claims.
“For Brian to make an assumption about my appearance and state of mind early that morning was subjective, hurtful and just plain wrong,” Elway said in a statement. “If I appeared ‘disheveled,’ as he claimed, it was because we had flown in during the middle of the night — immediately following another interview in Denver — and were going on a few hours of sleep to meet the only window provided to us.”
The former Dolphins coach has a shared background with Texans general manager Nick Caserio and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby from their time together in New England. Their familiarity is regarded as a plus for a potential match here as well as Flores’ successful track record.
Flores’ ugly exit from Miami Dolphins
Flores, 40, was a surprise firing after disagreements with general manager Chris Grier over personnel decisions, including drafting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He finished 24-25 in three seasons as a head coach, including a 10-6 record two seasons ago and 5-11 in his first year as a head coach.
The Dolphins were the first team in NFL history to lose seven consecutive games and win seven consecutive games in the same season.
“I’ve been looking at this over three years now and watching the organization grow,” Ross said when Flores was dismissed. “And I think an organization can only function if it’s collaborative, and it works well together. And I don’t think that we were really working well as an organization that it would take to really win consistently at the NFL level.”
Flores was the Patriots’ defensive signal-caller during a Super Bowl LIII championship victory over the Los Angeles Rams. He worked for the Patriots as an assistant coach from 2008 to 2018.
Insight into Flores’ background
A Brooklyn native and former Boston College linebacker, Flores has a long background and a strong relationship with Caserio from their time together in New England. He joined the Patriots in 2004 as a 23-year-old scouting assistant before becoming a pro scout. Flores was promoted to the coaching staff in 2008 as a special-teams coaching assistant and then coached safeties and linebackers. He had the responsibilities — but not the title — of defensive coordinator.
Flores went 4-2 against his former boss and mentor, Belichick, for the most success against him of any coach facing him during that span.
“I am grateful most of all for the players, coaches and support staff who gave everything they had on a daily basis to help us win games,” Flores said in a statement when the Dolphins fired him. “They deserve the credit for any success on the field, and it was the honor of a lifetime for me to go to work with them every day. I have always believed that leadership is really about service, and I did my best to serve the players, the staff and the organization every day. I believe in this team and will always value the relationships my family and I made here.”
The NFL’s troubling lack of diversity in coaching
Pittsburgh Steelers owner and team president Art Rooney II, in the wake of Flores filing a class-action lawsuit against the NFL that alleges discrimination in the interview-hiring process and in his dismissal from the AFC East franchise, issued a statement noting the lack of progress in hiring minority head coaches.
The Steelers employ the only Black coach in the NFL — former Super Bowl winner Mike Tomlin. There are two other minority head coaches: New York Jets coach Robert Saleh, who is of Lebanese descent, and Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera, who is Hispanic.
No minority head coaches have new jobs this offseason, and the Texans fired head coach David Culley, who is Black.
Rooney did emphasize the hiring of three of seven general managers being minorities in addition to two assistant general managers.
“While I acknowledge that we have not seen progress in the ranks of Head Coaches, we have seen marked improvement in the hiring of women and minorities in other key leadership roles such as Coordinator positions, General Manager positions, and front office positions both in and out of football operations,” Rooney II said in a statement. “I believe this progress has been made as a result of the implementation of many of the enhanced policies that were recently adopted.”