Pittsburgh Steelers hired Brian Flores 'because he's a qualified coach,' Art Rooney II says

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said the lawsuit filed by Brian Flores against the NFL and three teams alleging racial discrimination in hiring and firing practices didn't interfere with his organization's decision to hire Flores as senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.

"We hired Brian because we think he is a qualified coach and will be an asset to us," Rooney II said at the NFL owners meeting Tuesday. "You know, the lawsuit can create an awkward situation at times. But, irrespective of the lawsuit, we remain committed -- I remain committed -- to improving the situation in every way we can, and we've been working hard to do that."

Flores filed his lawsuit on Feb. 1, and Rooney II said the Steelers won't be involved with Flores' legal action.

"I can't really comment on the lawsuit itself," Rooney II said. "That's something that we agree that he'll pursue his end of it, we'll pursue our end of it and that's sort of going to happen outside the building."

Coach Mike Tomlin approached Rooney II earlier this month about hiring Flores as an assistant once it became clear that Flores was not going to get a head coaching job. Rooney II said his family's role in the creation of the Rooney Rule didn't pressure him into approving the hire.

"No, look, Mike came to me and said he thought that Brian was available and was interested in coming, and that he was interested in hiring him," Rooney II said. "That's when we started the discussion. We didn't get into any discussions about the Rooney Rule or anything else."

The NFL also is currently investigating Flores' claim that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross incentivized Flores to lose games during the 2019 season as part of an effort to secure a higher draft pick, but commissioner Roger Goodell said there's no timetable for the investigation being conducted by former SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

"I'm not doing that investigation," Goodell said Tuesday. "Mary Jo White is doing that investigation. She will have our full support and the support of the team. She will make the determination on that. There is no timetable for her to bring that report. When we have it, we will certainly move forward."

He added: "I'm focused on what do we do to try to understand the issues that Brian has raised."

Goodell also said if the investigation determines the integrity of the game was violated, the NFL will make those findings public.