Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said he’s “happy” that the Houston Texans have hired a Black head coach but believes he was passed over for the job because of his recent federal lawsuit against the NFL alleging racial discrimination.
The Texans announced Monday that they had hired Lovie Smith, who just completed his first season as the Texans’ defensive coordinator.
Smith, 63, coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons ending in 2015. Upon his hiring, Texans General Manager Nick Caserio said he is "one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and an established leader."
In a statement, Flores' legal team said, “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.”
Flores' suit alleges that an interview with the New York Giants after he was fired by the Dolphins was for show, to satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule, which stipulates that every team must interview a minority candidate for head coach, general manager and top assistant coach positions.
Flores’ attorneys said that while he was considered for the Texans job, he wasn't hired because of his lawsuit.
"We would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position 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," they said in their statement.
Caserio was asked to respond to Flores’ allegation at a news conference Tuesday to introduce Smith as head coach.
"It was important for us to stay true to our process and kind of focus on the things that we were doing, things that are said externally or statements that are made. My responsibility is to the Texans, and that’s what it’s going to remain as long as I’m working here," he said.
Smith said Monday that he was "humbled to be the next head coach of the Houston Texans."
"I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and this city to develop a championship-level program. I’m ready to get to work and build it together," he said.
Smith takes over a team completing a rebuild after it traded or released almost all of its top players in the last couple of years. The Texans went 4-13 last season.
Houston interviewed multiple candidates over the last few weeks, including Flores, Hines Ward, Josh McCown and Joe Lombardi.
The Texans had been criticized by some in the media for even considering McCown, 42, a former NFL quarterback, because he has never coached at any level aside from volunteering with his son’s high school team. McCown spent part of the 2020 season on Houston’s practice squad before he retired after a 17-year career.
Smith replaces David Culley, who is also Black and was fired after one season with the Texans.
Flores' lawsuit mentions Culley among a list of six coaches who the suit alleges were discriminated against within the NFL because they are Black.
The suit says Culley has been a collegiate and NFL coach for more than 45 years and that before his role with the Texas he "was never hired into an offensive or defensive coordinator position."
Then, after one year, the Texans "fired Mr. Culley without explanation other than vague 'philosophical differences' —which begs the question why he was hired just one year earlier in the first place," the suit says.
Smith is the second minority candidate to be hired this offseason after the Dolphins hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who is biracial, on Sunday.
When Flores filed his suit this month, there was only one Black head coach.
The NFL has denied Flores’ claims and said it would fight the suit.
“The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations,” it said in a statement.
“Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time,” it said. “We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”