For Brian Flores, a journey through football completes a dream
ATLANTA — This time last year, Brian Flores was the hot candidate on the rise, the probable next leader of the Patriots defense and an up-and-comer getting buzz for head coaching openings. It’s not buzz anymore this year, with Flores expected to become the head coach of the Dolphins as soon as Super Bowl LIII is over. Though the longtime Belichick assistant wouldn’t confirm he’s headed to South Beach Monday, he was reflective when speaking about his path from Brooklyn to the highest levels of professional football, his 14 years in New England, and, especially, his family.
“They’re just so proud,” Flores said. “For me, that’s incredible to me because my whole life I’ve just tried to make them proud. I think that’s very important to me. It’s fun, it’s fun for them.”
Flores, initially a scouting assistant, talked about how he got into the NFL with the goal of becoming a general manager. He was invested on the personnel side until Super Bowl XLII, when that loss to the Giants after an undefeated season left him with a desire to have a more direct impact on the team’s games.
He went to Scott Pioli, then the Patriots’ head of player personnel, and asked if he’d talk to Belichick about making the switch. Belichick agreed, and Flores moved over to become an assistant special teams coach.
It worked out, both from Flores’s perspective and from Belichick’s.
“Brian has been with our organization for a long time in a lot of different roles, scouting, many different aspects of our coaching staff,” Belichick said Monday. “He’s done a great job for me. I’m not going to speculate on anything in the future, but he’s done a great job for me and our organization, and he has the respect of everybody on our team and in our organization and on our coaching staff.”
Flores said it wasn’t difficult balancing head coaching interviews with playoff preparations. He has reportedly gone as far as to assemble the bones of a coaching staff, with Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea expected to join him with the Dolphins as offensive coordinator; Packers linebackers coach Patrick Graham joining on to run the defense; and Giants outside linebackers coach Robbie Leonard, ex-Jaguars defensive line coach Marion Hobby, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell also involved, according to the NFL Network.
“Everyone’s got 10 different things to do,” Flores said. “I think I’m good at compartmentalizing and taking care of what I’ve got to take care of.”
Flores talked about his parents, neither of whom had any connection to football, but who have supported him all his life. The closest Flores came to acknowledging the reports that he’ll go to Miami was to say that his family gets a kick out of seeing him linked to big jobs.
Flores said that he’s gotten strength from his mother, Maria, who’s battling cancer.
“My mom has good days, she has bad days, but she’s fighting,” he said. “She’s a fighter. She’s fearless. I got a little piece of that from her.
“She’s an idol to me,” he added.
Flores, who was a Boston College linebacker from 1999 to 2003, talked about picking up football at age12 by chance, when his uncle, a fireman in New York who played on a department team, got him involved. He played running back at first.
“I just took it and ran with it,” Flores said. “Literally, I was a running back at that age. I was 12. I was 12 years old. So I took it and ran with it and it’s been a great journey and [my parents have] kind of been on the journey with me.
“We lived in the projects in Brooklyn, the elevator used to be broken, and we used to walk up 20 flights of steps and then walk down. I have 100 stories like that. We’d go shopping and then we’d get there, the elevator is broken, who’s walking up the steps? It’s me with a bunch of bags. My mom would follow suit. Sometimes we’d have to take a couple trips. So to go from there to here, where we are now, sitting here, media night at the Super Bowl, it’s a great story, and it’s a dream, really.”