The Houston Texans have announced the hiring of Lovie Smith as their next head coach, ESPN reports.
This past season, Smith was the Texans' associate head coach and defensive coordinator.
In an official statement, Texans general manager Nick Caserio lauded Smith for his reputation as a leader and for being one of the most highly respected coaches in the league.
"[Smith] is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and an established leader," said Caserio. "A proven winner, Lovie has shown the ability to develop players both on and off the field for years. We had numerous discussions with countless coaches, executives, and players, and what revealed itself is that Lovie has both the leadership and people skills it takes to lead us forward. We both understand how much work is in front of us, but we embrace the responsibility and look forward to continuing to build a program that can have sustained success."
"I'm humbled to be the next head coach of the Houston Texans and incredibly excited to continue to work with Nick," Smith said in a statement. "I have so many friends, family, teammates, and coaches to thank for supporting me and helping me continue to do what I love, which is teaching and developing players. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and this city to develop a championship-level program. I'm ready to get to work and build it together."
Smith replaces David Culley, who was fired by the Texans in mid-January, just one year after he was hired.
"Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores' goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL," his attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said. "However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans' head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL."
Previusly, Smith was head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012, where he was named AP Coach of the Year in 2005 and made a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. He also was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 to 2015) and was at the University of Illinois for five years before joining the Texans staff last season.
Smith, joins the Miami Dolphins' Mike McDaniel, New York Jets' Robert Saleh, Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin, and Washington Commanders' Ron Rivera as the league's only minority head coaches.