MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores continues to speak out in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy.
Flores, who last week condemned the ex-police officers involved, revealed Thursday that a friend of his was killed in Indianapolis during a weekend of violent protests.
As a result, Flores said he has offered Dolphin players a word of caution.
“Let me start by saying this: we had a couple players scheduled (to speak) today. I just felt like it was important, with all that’s going on right now, that you guys hear from me first on some of these issues, so I just kind of wanted to lead the way on some of these discussions. I appreciate your guys’ time.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the events of the last week and a half? Certainly the tragedy in Minnesota but also the response nationally with the protests involved.
A: I think – like you said – what happened was, in a lot of ways, a tragedy. For me right now, there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of anger, a lot of emotion – a lot of emotions – but for me, I just want to make sure that the spotlight is on George Floyd and the horrible murder that occurred. We focus on George Floyd, his family and justice for the Floyd family.
Q: When you created the statement that you released earlier, you mentioned the Rooney Rule and different instances that you’ve seen and experienced during your NFL career as a coach. What prompted you to intertwine those two?
A: I think race is a tough subject for a lot of people. I think it’s something that I think a lot of people are seeing that it’s something that we need to kind of confront head-on and communicate and have discussions, and I think there was an opportunity to speak on that. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk about the Rooney Rule and the adjustments that were made over the last week. With the events that are going on now, I just felt like it was an opportunity to speak and talk about those and have those conversations because they’re important, and if we’re going to try to bring people to together, I think communication is vital.
Q: Clearly your players have a tremendous platform on which to express themselves on the subject. How might you encourage them to take advantage of that and will that include potentially kneeling again during the national anthem this coming season?
A: I understand that question. I appreciate it. But like I said earlier, I think to me, the conversation, the focus, the spotlight needs to be on George Floyd, justice for George Floyd. Obviously, condolences for his family. I think we’re in a situation here where – I’ve had this conversation numerous times over the last couple days – we’re in agreement. It’s not often that everyone is in agreement on a topic. I think everything, what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. It was disturbing. I think as a country, we’re in agreement. As a world, I think we’re all in agreement that what happened to him wasn’t right. It doesn’t matter race or religion; I think everyone was just disturbed by what they saw. I think to me, the focus needs to stay on that. The focus needs to stay on justice for George Floyd and his family, and really making the necessary changes so that that doesn’t happen again. So that’s all I want to talk about, to be quite honest.
Q: What have the conversations been like this season with your children regarding both COVID-19 and George Floyd?
A: My conversations with my family, I try to keep them private. I’ll continue to do that, but there have been conversations that have been had about both the pandemic as well as these (events) over the last week; but those are private. Those are private conversations. I think those are necessary conversations also, but any conversation with my family or the players or anyone internally within the club, I’m always going to keep those private.
Q: Safety Kavon Frazier was seen marching a couple days ago and he’s not alone among the players. What guidance have you given them to obviously be a participant in a very important part of American history but also understanding the surroundings in some of these protests that have been out of hand? What conversations have you had with him about that?
A: My number one thing for guys is they have a right to protest and I support their right to protest, but even more than that, it’s about being careful. I want my players to be careful. I actually had a friend who was murdered in Indianapolis. His name was Chris Beaty – a good friend. He actually played football with (Assistant to the Head Coach) Lance Bennett, who is on our staff. He was full of life. He was a great human being and he was protesting in Indianapolis and he was murdered last weekend. I guess to me, that was the first thing that kind of came to mind when Kavon was protesting. I’ve had a lot of conversations with players over the last few days and I support these guys. I understand the emotions that they’re going through; but at the same time, I want them to be smart. I care about each one of these guys. I had a situation hit home pretty closely for me, so there’s some fear on my end, to be honest with you, but I might as well take this time to send condolences to Beaty’s family, his friends in Indianapolis. I mean, this guy was just an incredible human being and it’s sad. It’s just another tragedy that we’re dealing with. Hopefully we can learn from it and again, make the necessary changes so that these things don’t happen again.
Q: You don’t want to talk to us about what you speak about with your players, but have you kind of handled maybe your emotions around George Floyd’s murder and maybe the emotions of your players as you go about this offseason period?
A: I think it’s the only thing that we’re watching. We’re dealing with a pandemic. We’re dealing with a lot of – people are hungry, people are out of jobs, there’s a pandemic and then people are angry as well. I think guys need time to be angry, have a platform and show their emotions. They have that with me and they have that with our coaching staff and we’ve had conversations, just like everyone else has; but at the same time, these guys, they’ve been working also. They’ve been working. They’ve been working on their football and that’s been kind of the place to get away for a little bit, but our hearts and minds are with the Floyd family and the (Ahmaud) Arbery family and Breonna Taylor and there’s many, many instances like this that we have to share our condolences. These guys, they have my support. I know it’s an emotional time. I hope that answers your question.
Q: As a person of color, can you share with the world when the first time was you realized your race was a factor in your existence?
A: I’ve always known since I was a little boy that race was a factor. I would say that the – I mean I’ve always known. Again, I can go into personal stories and say this or that, but I’m going to go back to my original point: this isn’t really about me. It’s about what’s happening in this country and again, I think we have a situation here where we can actually make some change. It’s not often that there is 100 percent agreement across the board that changes need to occur. Rather than talking about me and my personal situation, let’s put the focus on that and hopefully we’ll make some progress.
Q: What are your thoughts about the league letting coaches back in to work and what your offseason has been like with the players, and do you feel like you’ll be able to get your hands on them and see them before the start of training camp?
A: Yeah, I got the memo probably around the same time you guys did. Apparently we’re allowed to go back tomorrow. I think it’s tomorrow – yes, tomorrow. We’ll meet on that as a staff later on today, to be honest with you. It’s been less than an hour, so we’ll talk about that later today, make sure guys are all set up. We’ve got meetings with the players tomorrow (and) everyone is set up at their homes. I imagine it would be hard to – we would hate to have a glitch with the players because we want to go back into the office. Those are the things we’ll talk about as a staff with our video department, with our IT department, with the coaches. They all do a great job. If you didn’t have respect or admiration for your IT or video departments during this whole situation, then you do now. Our guys have done a great job. But we’ll talk about that this afternoon as a staff. As far as how this has gone with the players, I think the Zoom meetings have been good. We’re making the best of the situation. I’ve tried to tell them, we’re not going to make excuses or point fingers or say this is why something didn’t happen. We’re going to make the best of the situation and try to improve, try to get better, try to improve. I don’t have different words to say that. We’ll just try to improve and get better and we’ll try to do that on a day-to-day basis. We’ll string good days together and a lot of the onus is on them, individually, to train and work out. I wish we had our hands on them, but that’s out of our hands, as well. I don’t know. You guys found about when we will be coming in probably five minutes after I did, so I’m sure you guys will find out when we get the players five minutes after I do. Once that happens, we’ll plan accordingly and do what we feel best for the Dolphins.
Q: If you were to outline a roadmap for where we are to where we want to go, where people are all looked upon as equal, what would that roadmap look like?
A: As you guys have heard me, I’m a baby steps guy. To look far down – I think at the end of the day, you mentioned it four or five minutes ago – but I think there is a lot of dialogue that has to happen, first and foremost. I’ll tell you, it’s a long road. I think it’s about each individual’s heart and where is that? And making sure people’s hearts are in the right places and there is a respect and – I won’t say admiration but just an overall respect for your fellow man or woman. I think we have a long way to go and hopefully we use this tragedy as a starting point to get to the place where you’re talking about.
Q: Going back to the way you facilitate the discussion in your own locker room and your own building. How do you do that, going about facilitating the platform to encourage discussion amongst your guys as a team, as a staff?
A: I think a lot of it is individual. Some guys – I’ve taken many calls already – from players, coaches, a lot of different people. I think the number one thing is to listen. I think that’s – we have two ears for a reason. Everyone has kind of heard that. I think listening and helping everyone understand each of their individual stories. We each have a different story. Some are different than others; but if we listen and try to understand and step in someone else’s shoes – white, black, regardless of religion, football player, non-football player – we’re all a little bit different. I think there’s got to be more kindness, there’s got to be more acceptance. Those are kind of some of the things I try to spotlight in our conversations, is that when you are having these conversations, try to listen more than you speak in a lot of instances. That doesn’t mean don’t speak, that’s not what I’m saying. But listen as much as you speak.