INDIANAPOLIS -- Texans general manager Nick Caserio emphasized Tuesday that promoting Lovie Smith to head coach from defensive coordinator and not hiring former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores came down to making a decision in the best interest of his organization.
And Caserio made it a point to say it was his decision and recommendation to chairman and chief operating officer Cal McNair when asked about Flores' class-action lawsuit he filed against the NFL, the New York Giants, Dolphins and the Denver Broncos alleging racial discrimination and unfair treatment.
Flores was a finalist for the position, which was previously held by David Culley, along with former NFL quarterback and high school assistant coach Josh McCown and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon after the team fired David Culley. A former Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and NFL Coach of the Year who was previously a head coach at Illinois, Smith was promoted from associate head coach and defensive coordinator to head coach.
Caserio worked with Flores with the New England Patriots and they remain friends.
“I would say, personally speaking, I have a lot of respect and admiration for Brian,” Caserio said at the NFL scouting combine. “I think he’s one of the better coaches in our league. We had a lot of time together there in New England.
“Ultimately, as we went through the hiring process and the hiring cycle, my responsibility to the organization and the ownership was to make the decision I felt was in our best interest. Brian was certainly a part of that process.”
Flores was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.
“Brian’s a great coach,” Caserio said. “I know he’ll do a lot of good things with the Steelers. And he’ll be in this league for a long time. But, in the end, we just felt that Lovie made the most sense for our team and situation at the time.
“Ultimately, Cal put it on my shoulders to kind of make the decision I felt was best and to bring candidates to the table. Cal was very supportive and open, certainly put a lot of stock in the things I had to say.”
Aaron Wilson is an NFL reporter and analyst for Pro Football Network. He is a contributor to Sports Talk 790