Brian Flores returning to the New England Patriots this offseason was nothing more than a pipe dream. The Patriots’ former defensive play caller, who was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January, never talked to the organization about a potential reunion.
Appearing on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Flores said that he had not been in contact with “anyone from New England” about returning to his former team. Instead, the 40-year-old recently joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
The full transcript of the exchange, as provided by HBO, reads as follows:
BRYANT GUMBEL: Some members of the Boston media were beating the drum for you to go back to the Patriots. Was that ever in play?
BRIAN FLORES: No. I didn’t talk to anyone from New England.
BRYANT GUMBEL: Since that now— now infamous text exchange with Bill Belichick, have you spoken with him?
BRIAN FLORES: I have not. I have not.
BRYANT GUMBEL: Have you tried to?
BRIAN FLORES: No. I haven’t
BRYANT GUMBEL: Do you expect to?
BRIAN FLORES: I mean there’s potential that we could— we could run into each other. I mean I’d be open to a conversation. But, no, I— I— I— well, if that— if that— we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Flores has been in the news this offseason not just because of his dismissal after three seasons in Miami, but also because he filed a discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and its teams. At the heart of his case is a text exchange wrongfully sent by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, congratulating him on getting the New York Giants’ head coaching job.
That text, however, was intended for another one of Belichick’s former assistants: Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who had previously interviewed in New York and was eventually hired. Flores’ lawsuit makes the case that Belichick’s text is proof of systemic discrimination against Black and minority coaches in the NFL, and that the Giants only interviewed him to fulfill the league’s so-called Rooney Rule.
Belichick has not made any public comments about his role in the lawsuit. He was mentioned in a statement by the Giants, however, that claims “Mr. Belichick’s text exchange provides no insight into what actually transpired during our head coaching search.”
While the lawsuit is ongoing, Flores has found a new home in Pittsburgh — his third team since entering the NFL.
He started his career with the Patriots and through 15 years with the club rose through the ranks. By 2018, he was serving as de facto defensive coordinator and after helping New England win the Super Bowl that year left to join the Dolphins.
Miami went just 24-25 in three seasons under Flores but was coming off back-to-back losing seasons when he was fired in January. His lawsuit against the NFL alleges that the team’s owner, Stephen Ross, offered him bribes for deliberately losing games.