Texans GM: Flores’ suit didn’t affect HC decision

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HOUSTON — During Lovie Smith’s introductory news conference as the Houston Texans’ new head coach, general manager Nick Caserio said the lawsuit by Brian Flores had no effect on the team’s search that ended with Smith’s promotion from defensive coordinator.

“There were conversations with Brian after that (the lawsuit) took place, so it really didn’t affect our process at all,” Caserio said.

Flores, who was one of three candidates the Texans announced had completed second interviews with the team, filed a lawsuit against the NFL last week. In the lawsuit — suing the NFL and three NFL teams — Flores alleged discrimination regarding his interview processes with the Denver Broncos and New York Giants and his firing last month by the Miami Dolphins.

After Smith was hired on Monday, Flores’ attorneys released a statement saying Flores was “happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach,” but that “it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL.”

Smith, who has been a head coach previously with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he didn’t know exactly when he became a finalist for the position. Smith was hired on Monday, just one day after the team announced they had interviewed him for the role with a process Texans CEO & chairman Cal McNair called “a thorough, inclusive and in-depth process.”

Smith said he sees the problem with the NFL as he has become one of only two Black head coaches, along with Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), and one of only five minority head coaches in the league. He said he hopes he and the Texans staff can work toward changing that.

“It’s not often you get a chance to lead three professional football teams,” Smith said. “I don’t know if there’s a guy who looks like me that’s had the opportunity to do that.”

“… It’s not just about me being here. I see [offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton right here and I see his color. He’s going to be calling plays for us. Maybe it’s about getting guys in the position for people to see exactly who they are and what they can do. I understand the problem and I know the Houston Texans are doing something about it to make it better.”

Smith’s news conference was briefly interrupted by a fire alarm going off in the building — a false alarm — urging people in the building to “proceed to the stairwells.”

As the alarm went off, Caserio joked, “We can talk over it. … We’ll make it work.”

On hand for the news conference were several former players, including Texans legend Andre Johnson, who said he played through some “terrible seasons” in Houston, but thinks that hiring Smith will help the Texans get back on track.

“I think having coach Lovie Smith here is the right way to get started, and I think with that hire you’ll get some of the fans back,” Johnson said. “And now it’s just getting the right players in the building and putting a good product out on the field and just going out and performing.”

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