Brian Flores will take part in accelerator program

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores had a 24-25 record in three seasons coaching an oft-dysfunctional Dolphins team. The fact that he finished within a game of .500 is impressive, given that the team's owner allegedly offered Flores $100,000 for each loss in 2019, is impressive.

(Not allegedly. It happened. Ross crafted a cover story that it was a joke.)

Flores spent 2022 as an assistant with the Steelers before landing in Minnesota as a defensive coordinator. Despite dramatically improving one of the worst defenses in the league a year earlier, Flores got zero interviews for any of the eight head-coaching vacancies in 2024.

It's no surprise. Within a month after Flores was fired, he filed a landmark race discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos. (Flores later added the Texans, claiming retaliation in failing to hire him instead of Lovie Smith.) With four teams specifically and the NFL generally forced to spend time and money defending their hiring practices, Flores becomes persona non grata for having the gumption to pursue his legal rights.

Against that background, Flores will participate in next week's coach accelerator program, held in conjunction with ownership meetings in Nashville. It feels like part of the awkward dance that will continue until his case is resolved. (More than two years later, the case remains stuck at square one, which focuses on the NFL's effort to force the claims into the secret, rigged, kangaroo court of arbitration run by the league.)

From Flores's perspective, he needs to make it look like he's trying to get a job, even if he knows it's likely fruitless. From the league's perspective, they need to look like they're giving Flores fair consideration — even if they aren't.

At this point, it's not about his claims of racial bias. It's about the NFL and the teams taking a how-dare-you-sir approach to someone who mustered the nerve to sue them. Most people think that's fine and dandy. The truth is that it violates federal and state law to shun someone who has engaged in legally protected activities.

Maybe one of the NFL's owners will eventually do the right thing and treat him as someone who didn't apply a scarlet letter to his coaching career. The Steelers gave him a lifeline after he sued. The Vikings put him in charge of the defense, both of which are admirable.

The next step will be much bigger. Will an owner risk disapproval from his or her partners in Club Oligarch by giving safe harbor to their courtroom nemesis? If the Haslams think cracking the collusion code with the Deshaun Watson contract prompted a cold shoulder, making Flores one of 32 NFL head coaches will get the owner who does it absolute-zero head, shoulders, knees, and toes.

I'll hold out hope that an owner eventually will gives Flores another opportunity. If no one does, it will reconfirm that, collectively, they are who we thought they were.