Miami Dolphins Brian Flores Feature

Flores-Longform-Header

Brian Flores' rise from a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn to head coach of the Miami Dolphins is an amazing story...

There's just some elements of that story that haven't been given their proper due.

Flores didn't have it easy as one of five sons of Honduran immigrants struggling to make ends meet but determined to give their children better opportunities. Most importantly, what Flores and his four brothers got from their parents — Raul and Maria — was love, support and a great set of values, a foundation that would lead Brian to where he is today.

"My parents immigrated here in the '70s and they came here to build a better life for me, my brothers and my entire family," Flores said during his introductory press conference. "My parents, my uncles, my aunts, we spent a lot of time to where maybe we didn't have a lot of money, but we were rich in love and that's for sure."

Flores became Dolphins head coach after helping the New England Patriots win another Super Bowl title with a 13-3 victory against the Los Angeles Rams, brilliantly wrapping up his first season as defensive play-caller for Bill Belichick.

back to top
FloresTrio_2

Before doing so, he interviewed for four head-coaching openings around the NFL, a clear testament to the respect he has earned through the years.

As he prepared for the Super Bowl, Flores was front and center for a different kind of interview, the ones with media members looking for him to explain his meteoric rise since he first entered the NFL some 15 years ago as a scouting assistant.

"I would start with the people I've been fortunate to be around," Flores said. "So, first, my parents. I've got two great parents, my mom, my dad. They're strong, confident, they instilled core values in me that I keep with me today: integrity, honor, character, doing things the right way, being honest, telling the truth, working hard. Working hard, that's kind of been my mantra, my mood my entire life."

Those core values Flores learned at an early age have served him well every step of the way, from Poly Prep in Brooklyn, to Boston College, to his time with the Patriots.

Combine that foundation with a sharp mind, and you've got a winning combination, the kind that leads someone to become a head coach at 37 years old.

"He worked his way up the ladder," Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier said. "Nothing was given to him. From his upbringing, as you guys have all read the story, through Boston College, and then working his way up at New England working under one of the greatest coaches in football and having worked with him (Bill Belichick), I know how challenging and hard that can be and it brings out the best in you and Brian thrived."

back to top
image002
image006

Getting Into Football

Flores discovered football at the age of 12 through his uncle, who was a fireman in New York and played on the Fire Department team.

Flores began playing youth football and was good at it. Very good. So good that he caught the attention of Dino Mangiero, a former NFL nose guard who was coaching at Brooklyn's Poly Prep Country Day. Through a program that allowed Mangiero to admit a number of athletes from low-income backgrounds, Flores ended up at Poly Prep.

"From the day I met him, you knew he was special," Mangiero said. "He sat there, 13-year-old kid, sits there and is staring at you and absorbing every word you're saying. He's an A student and he's the best football player in his little league. These guys don't come around very often."

With Flores playing running back and defensive back, Poly Prep didn't lose a game during his time there. It would begin a pattern of consistent winning for Flores that's continued to his time in the NFL.

While he obviously was a great player, Flores also impressed Mangiero with his maturity and his leadership. He tells the story of Flores interrupting his teammates while they were complaining about the coaches and telling them they needed to trust them.

"That was very impressive to me," Mangiero said. "That's an example of Brian's leadership. It takes courage because sometimes it's not popular. He did that all through his junior and senior years and everybody looked up to him as a leader at Poly Prep.

"He came with this really great value system that was instilled in him at an early age. His mom is just a terrific lady. His dad was like a merchant marine; he was on a ship for eight months. He wasn't around a lot. So Brian had to take the leadership in the family and the mom always believed in higher education. Absolutely, he got that core and that foundation from his family. Brian's two brothers played for me, Danny and Luis. They were the same way, very respectful, very hard-working. The mom and dad instilled that into them. They got a chance in this country to really do something special and really took advantage because all three of them are doing really well."

Flores and Mangiero developed such a bond that Flores said during Super Bowl week he doesn't make a big decision without talking to his old coach. And Mangiero made it a point to fly from New Jersey to be there for Flores' press conference in Davie on Monday.

back to top
FloresRecap
FloresQuote

Higher Education

One of the first big decisions with which Mangiero helped Flores was choosing a college, and it was Boston College that got the nod.

Flores earned four letters at BC and during that time (2000-03), the winning continued. In those four years, BC was 32-18, including a 4-0 record in bowl games. Flores was a key contributor on special teams as a junior, then played a hybrid linebacker/safety role as a senior.

Again, it didn't take him long to impress his coach with his intangibles.

"He really had good football knowledge," said Tom O'Brien, who coached 10 years at Boston College and six more at North Carolina State. "He was also really smart in the classroom. He's one of those guys that got it all. He got both the football smarts and the school smarts. It's very rare. Sometimes you get people like that in football. He played a heck of a lot for us his redshirt junior year and kind of really blossomed his senior year for us. He was second on the team in tackles his senior year, and pass breakups, hurries, sacks, the whole thing. He had an ability when he played that nickel back, hybrid linebacker spot for us out there to see the field. With this study, he had great anticipation and he made a lot of plays for us."

One of his best friends on the team was guard Augie Hoffmann, who is now the head coach at Saint Joseph Regional High School in New Jersey. 

As fate would have it, two of the players Hoffmann has coached are twins Jason and Devin McCourty, two key members of the New England secondary this season.

"He's a genuine, genuine human being," Hoffmann said. "We come from totally different backgrounds, but we clicked right away. You could just tell by the way he treats people, his friends being his extended family, just how important they are to him. My mom and dad absolutely adore him. They love him. They've loved him since we were in college. You could just tell that people are drawn to him. He's very magnetic. People want to be around him because of the type of person that he is.

"It's his dedication to doing things the right way. He never cut corners. He always did things the right way. He's always been a guy that's been level, never too high, never too low. That's what made him a great player, and that's what's making him a great coach."

back to top
D52_8329

Going Pro

Once his playing days at Boston College were over, it was time for Flores to decide on his future.

Hoffmann, O'Brien and Mangiero all said he would have been a success in any field he would have pursued, but Flores told Mangiero that football was what he wanted to do.

So Flores wrote a letter to all 32 NFL teams.

"I just told them I was a graduate of BC, gave them a little bit of my background, I had a master's," Flores recalled. "I remember this like it was yesterday, I felt like football was the only thing that leveled the playing field for me. I got an opportunity, I could do a few different things, and I wanted to stay with the game.

"I said I would work for free. They called me back. They didn't ask me to work for free, which I thought was great. I didn't make a lot, but at the same time, I had been poor my whole life, so what I made, I felt like I was rich. So it was a win-win situation, for them, for me. I really enjoyed that time. Again, everyone's big on money. To me it was about the process, it was about learning, it was about trying to improve. And it's still that way for me."

The Patriots gave Flores his first NFL job in 2004 with the title of scouting assistant, which entailed more than anything a whole lot of "go-fering." But Flores showed his customary work ethic, did what he was told, and constantly asked questions.

And he continued to make a good impression.

After two years, he became a pro scout for the Patriots. Flores then began envisioning a future where he would become a general manager.

That all changed after the Patriots' quest for a perfect 2007 season ended with a Super Bowl loss against the New York Giants.

"It really felt like I wanted to make more of an impact, I wanted to have more of an impact on the games, on wins and losses, so I asked if I could go down to coaching," Flores said. "I talked to Bill and there was a position open and I just kind of came into it. I started on special teams, I was on special teams for two years, I was on offense for a year, that's quality control, just breaking down tape on offense, defense, and I kind of fell in love with coaching, just to be around players and just really get to make an impact."

back to top
L1160900
L1160945

Connecting As A Coach

The qualities Flores had shown at every stop continued to serve him well as an assistant coach with New England, as he developed close relationships with his players.

As he continued to prove himself, his responsibilities on Belichick's staff grew, first moving to safeties coach in 2012 and then linebackers coach in 2016. When Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions last offseason, Flores got the call to make the calls on defense — even though he didn't get the title of defensive coordinator.

"I think Flo definitely brought a lot of aggressiveness," linebacker Don'ta Hightower said during Super Bowl week. "He's a great coach. He definitely demands the best out of his players. Ever since I've known Flo, him being the secondary coach, him moving to linebacker and DC, he's definitely just pushed and wanted the best out of everybody. He's just very demanding in that aspect."

Several of his New England players talked about Flores' impact not just as a coach but as a man.

One of those was Matt Slater, who went from wondering whether he would last in the NFL to being a Pro Bowl regular as a special teams player.

"Early in my career, I really struggled with confidence and figuring out whether or not I belonged in this league," Slater said. "This man was the first coach that really gave me the faith and confidence that I could play, that I belonged. He challenged me as a player. He believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself."

back to top
FloresLogo

The Next Chapter

Flores said the thought of becoming a head coach started crossing his mind in 2014, the year the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks to win the second of four Super Bowl titles during Flores' time with the team.

It was Flores who was credited for sending Malcolm Butler into the game in the final minute, just in time for Butler to come up with a game-clinching interception at the goal line.

Even though he interviewed for four teams, Flores said he was in no hurry to become a head coach. Yes, it was a goal, but he was willing to wait a little longer if the circumstances weren't right.

With the Dolphins, he feels those circumstances are what they need to be.

Based on how he got here, the Dolphins got someone who will put in the work and do it the right way.

"He's a very bright, intelligent football coach who cares about people," Mangiero said. "That's what I think is the secret to his success. Like we said from day one, he's going to outwork you. He's going to outwork everybody because he understands at the end of the day putting in the hard work is going to pay off."

It's a lesson Flores learned at a very young age.

Yes, his childhood was challenging in a lot of ways. It also was fulfilling in many ways and, ultimately, it led him to where he is today.

back to top