What Brian Flores Said About Bill Belichick After Controversial Texts

By Jason Hall

February 22, 2022

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
Photo: Getty Images

Brian Flores appears to still hold his former New England Patriots boss, head coach Bill Belichick, in a high regard even after including a controversial text exchange with the six-time Super Bowl champion as part of his ongoing lawsuit against the NFL and three teams.

During an appearance on the I Am Athlete Podcast, Flores -- who was recently hired as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach by the Pittsburgh Steelers -- addressed the conversation with Belichick, who appeared to have mixed up Flores, who is Black, with his former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who is White, in what the former Dolphins head coach argued was proof that the New York Giants interviewed him simply to comply with the NFL's 'Rooney Rule' while having already decided on Daboll as their next head coach.

“I’m not mad. I mean, Bill did what a lot of us [have done]. He sent a text message to the wrong person. I’m certainly guilty of that before,” Flores told I Am Athlete hosts Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson and Omar Kelly via CBS Boston. “To me, I thought it was specific to the lawsuit in that it confirmed a lot of things that I thought were going on, that I think a lot of Black and minority coaches think are going on. It kind of confirmed it for me. As far as having a fair and equal opportunity to go and interview and show your acumen, show your intelligence, show your ability to lead, show your willingness and your leadership. Oftentimes, it’s not a fair and equal playing field.”

In the leaked conversation, the contact saved as 'Bill Belichick' appears to accidentally tell Flores -- who served as a Patriots assistant for 11 seasons -- that he heard from the Buffalo Bills -- Daboll's previous employer after stints with the Patriots and the University of Alabama -- and the Giants that "you are the their guy" in relation to New York's coaching search.

Flores, a Brooklyn native, responds with "that's definitely what I want" and thanks Belichick before later asking if the legendary head coach actually meant to send the message to Daboll.

Belichick realizes the mistake and said he "misread the text" and that he thought the Giants were naming Daboll as their next head coach before apologizing.

Flores filed a lawsuit on February 1 in Manhattan federal court against the NFL and three teams -- the Dolphins, Giants and Denver Broncos -- alleging racial discrimination during their hiring processes, as well as claiming that Ross offered him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season in an effort to "tank" for the highest possible draft pick.

The newly hired Steelers assistant's new boss, Mike Tomlin, was the NFL's only Black head coach at the time the lawsuit was filed, which occurred prior to the Houston Texans hiring Lovie Smith.

Flores appeared on the ESPN show Get Up earlier this month -- as well as several other outlets -- and addressed his claim that Ross offered additional compensation to lose games.

"That was a conversation about not doing as much as we needed to do in order to win football games," he said. "Take a flight, go on vacation, I'll give you $100,000 per loss -- those were his exact words. I deal in truth, I tell the players this, as well. I'm gonna give you good news, bad news -- but it's going to be honest.

"To disrespect the game like that, trust was lost, and there were certainly some strained relationships, and ultimately, I think that was my demise in Miami."

The NFL implements the "Rooney Rule" -- named after late former Steelers owner Dan Rooney -- which requires teams to interview minority coaching candidates for head coach, general manager and executive positions.

Flores' lawsuit accuses the Giants and Broncos of interviewing him solely to meet the "Rooney Rule" requirements while having already decided on White candidates -- with the Giants hiring Daboll and Denver hiring Nathaniel Hackett -- during the process.

On Saturday, the Steelers announced they'd hired Flores as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, the team announced in a news release on their official website.

"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," Tomlin said. "Brian's resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team."

Flores took over as Miami's head coach in 2019 after spending 11 seasons as an assistant with the Patriots, which included winning four Super Bowl championships (XXXIX, XLIX, LI and LIII).

The 40-year-old went 24-25 during three seasons with the Dolphins, but appeared to be gaining momentum.

Miami finished the 2021 season with a 9-8 record having won eight of his last nine games following a disappointing 1-7 start, which made his termination in January the most surprising of any NFL head coach.

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