Brian Flores is in a much different position now than he was a season ago.
He was fired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January after leading the Dolphins to their first back-to-back winning seasons in nearly two decades. That was just the beginning of the offseason for Flores, who seemed like a perfect candidate for another head coaching gig but didn’t get one. It led to Flores suing the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos — over alleged discrimination in the interview process he had with the two latter organizations and due to his termination with Miami.
Taking the bold stance had to have made other NFL franchises weary of bringing in Flores, but he landed in Pittsburgh, joining Mike Tomlin’s staff with the Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
Like he has in the past, Flores will get set to face his old team in the New England Patriots this Sunday. Flores spent 15 seasons from 2004-2018 with the Patriots in various roles, and captain Devin McCourty has a great deal of admiration for Flores not only as coach, but the lengths he went to this offseason.
“I have a ton of respect for him,” McCourty told reporters following practice Thursday, as seen in a video on Patriots.com. “I think him taking a stand is right down his alley. He’s always preached to us, not only as football players but as men, having character, standing up for what you believe in. I shot him a text as soon as everything came out and told him I was behind him, had his back. That will never change.”
McCourty and Flores cultivated a special bond beginning when Flores served as the Patriots safeties coach from 2012-2015. McCourty even said Flores “has been like family” to him, and added he would go over to the coach’s house on holidays during the early stages of his career.
But the strong relationship doesn’t impact what McCourty hopes the outcome ends up being on Sunday.
“That relationship will never change, even though you don’t get to talk as much during the season,” McCourty said. “I hope he loses games, I hope we win games. That will never change. It was the same way with my brother. But always wish him the best and think a lot of him as a man and as a coach.”
Flores might see the Week 2 encounter with the Patriots as somewhat of a revenge game. Bill Belichick ended up in the middle of Flores’ offseason, as his text messages had a hand in prompting Flores’ class-action lawsuit.
The Patriots and Steelers will kick off from Acrisure Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.