The Leader Who Speaks Up

The Leader Who Speaks Up

People 08.17.22

Brian Flores

As a high school sophomore, Alex found a role model in teammate Brian Flores who is now Pittsburgh Steelers’ Senior Defensive Assistant and Linebackers Coach. But Alex first knew him as Poly Prep’s starting linebacker. Alex was Brian’s backup, and he learned a lot more than key plays from the team’s standout senior talent. “Brian was a very instrumental person in my life,” says Alex. “His work ethic, the way he treated people, the manner in which he carried himself on and off the field all made an impression on me.” 

Alex went on to play football at Yale, but closely followed his old teammate’s impressive career trajectory. One of five sons of Honduran immigrants, Brian has been a trailblazer in the National Football League. After playing football at Boston College, he transitioned to coaching and quickly ascended the ranks of the New England Patriots staff over a decade. Most head coaches in the NFL average two decades of coaching experience on their resume, but in 2019, Flores was hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Not only was he one of the youngest head coaches in the league at the age of 37, but he was also one of only three Black head coaches in the league at the time and the fourth-ever of Latino ancestry. “I’m a big believer in leadership and walked into that role excited to have success.” 

Despite posting the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-2003, Brian was fired. The dismissal prompted him to sue the NFL and three teams for discrimination in hiring practices. “Part of leadership is speaking up in uncomfortable situations,” he says. “Dr. Martin Luther King said, there comes a time where silence becomes betrayal. This is a problem not just within the NFL, but across industries. I couldn’t stay silent.”

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