On a chilly, gray October day, Brian Flores stands on a sideline of a PittsburghSteelers practice field and laughs at a question.
He will return to Hard Rock Stadium for the first time since he was fired as the Miami Dolphins head coach in January. He filed a lawsuit against his former employer, three other teams and the National Football League for discrimination in hiring and firing. Two more coaches have joined the case since he filed it, and the league has argued to push the case out of the public eye.
Maybe it's a revenge game.
Flores said no with a laugh. I'm looking at it differently now.
Mike Tomlin, who hired Flores as a senior defensive assistant in February, downplayed Flores' lawsuit and his return to Miami.
The pending lawsuit isn't a factor. In regards to what we are doing here today, it's irrelevant. We don't like the story. It's definitely true.
Flores acknowledges that there are memories that will come flooding back when he leaves the bus in Miami Gardens, but he is approaching this game with a businesslike mentality. His feelings about coming back for Sunday's game are likely to be the same as his history with the organization. He smiles as he talks about how much he is looking forward to seeing Kyle and Troy again, as well as how much he enjoyed his time in Miami.
Flores was Miami's head coach for three seasons and had a 24-25 record. I have a lot of good memories, but I'm focused on the present.
I think of all the relationships that were built there that are bigger than football. There are a lot of those that like that. That's where my thoughts go.
The man arrived in Pittsburgh in February. Each week, Flores helps develop a defensive plan with Tomlin and Teryl Austin, as well as coaching the linebackers. The former first-round inside LB is heavily scrutinized and criticized for inconsistent play after an injury that derailed a promising start. Bush found a coach that was direct in his instructions and gave feedback on weekly grade sheets. Bush said that having tangible measures of his progress is helpful.
Bush said that he had his highest-graded game after the Pittsburgh game. You can't play to your ability if you're not Superman.
If you're not Superman, you'll get a bad grade on Monday. No positives or negatives, whether it is good or bad.
Flores entered this week after defeating a familiar face. He helped the defense upset Tom Brady and the Brady Bunch as nearly double-digit favorites. Flores provided a window into the quarterback's mind while he was a member of the New England coaching staff.
Flores meticulously went over a play in practice where he expected Brady to look from the strong side and throw it to the weak side. In the second quarter, Brady tried to catch Chris Godwin on a crossing route. Jack could see what was happening, but he wasn't close to the scene. Brady missed the throw for an incomplete pass.
Jack said that he was spot on. He told me that it would play out like this. The same play took place. When we were playing Tom, he understood very well. If we're not where we're supposed to be, he'll find it.
The Steelers were not always in alignment. Communication was smooth even with a lot of new faces.
Playing for Flores was one of the reasons why Jack signed with the Steelers. Jack and Flores have developed a good relationship over the course of the season. Jack is called the voice of reason by Flores.
Jack thought it was hilarious. I think I've played the most snaps. Everybody has a point of view. Some people may feel different depending on what we do. I'll give my opinion in there.
Bush said he cuts the "fluff" and is a stickler for communication as Jack said Flores is thorough in detailing his plans and direct in his feedback.
One of the main tenets of Flores is that he takes ideas from the inside linebacker room to other meetings to make sure everyone is speaking the same language.
He's a great person to talk to. He has certain tools that you don't need in this business. Since he's been here, he's shown those tools.
The details of what happened in Miami are kept to himself by Flores.
Jack said, "Obviously you hear the headlines and everything on TV and stuff like that, but we haven't really gotten his perspective." We try to mess with him and make him laugh, but he won't even discuss it. I'm sure we'll talk about everything one day, but he keeps it business. It will be a nice week for him.
If he sees Pittsburgh as a stop on his way back to a head-coaching job, he won't share his plans publicly. Flores bought a house in the heart of Pittsburgh after he accepted the job offer.
Flores said that he was concentrating on right now. The group is a good one. I'm learning a lot under Mike T. That has been enjoyable. It's a great experience for me, and I'm at that point.
Is buying a house over renting a sign that he's going to stay with the team?
Flores has a good laugh.
I want to talk to my financial adviser.