Despite Brian Flores' lawsuit against he NFL and multiple franchises, Mike Tomlin still hired the former Miami Dolphins head coach to his Pittsburgh Steelers staff. While it was a shocker for some, Tomlin highlighted that he “owed” that to Flores.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Tomlin discussed his relationship with Flores and how he wanted to stay close to him during his battle against the NFL. To recall, Flores sued the NFL, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants for discrimination and racism in hiring practices.

Many people thought that Flores' coaching career is over because of the legal action, but Tomlin came in and hired him as defensive assistant and linebacker coach for the Steelers.

“I wanted to stay close to Brian when his legal issues started. I just didn’t want him to feel like he was on an island. From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. … I was in position to provide that,” Tomlin said on hiring Flores, per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.

Beyond their relationship, though, Mike Tomlin knows better than anyone else that Brian Flores can have a massive impact on the Steelers with his experience. After all, he now has a pro head coach-caliber man taking care of the defense and the linebackers. He also sees his new assistant making “significant” impact on other areas.

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“Senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach is his title, but there’s so many ways that he’s going to help us and help me. … His contributions are going to be significant,” Tomlin added

Flores was one of the top head coaches available in the market before, but he was largely snubbed for coaching opportunities even in those where he was reportedly the leading candidate. It led him to sue the NFL, as well as the teams and individuals involved. It remains to be seen how his lawsuit will pan out, but it is certainly a story that a lot of people are keeping an eye on.

As for how the Steelers will be affected by the Flores hiring, Tomlin emphasized that he sees their move as something that would have a positive impact in the league and the community Furthermore, he shared what seems to be an approval from team owner Art Rooney II and family, noting that it has always been part of their mission to make such difference.

“To have an opportunity to impact the game in a positive way, to impact society in a positive way. It’s continually an honor to be a part of something that the Rooney family started and led for a long time before my existence here,” the 50-year-old coach added.