Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ FDNY jersey is a nod to the uncle who impacted his life – Miami Dolphins blog

MIAMI – Dolphins coach Brian Flores has a signature game-day look: a dark gray vest over a white long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants, and black shoes accompany an expression that is usually all business. That’s what he wore on Sunday when the team won against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Flores is not used to changing clothes before speaking to the media, but that was not the case after the Jets game. He stepped onto the podium in a navy blue FDNY (New York City Fire Department) T-shirt.

It was a gift from his uncle, Darrell Patterson, a retired firefighter. Given how “instrumental” Patterson was in his life, Flores said, it seemed appropriate to wear it on his last return to New York.

“Brian will tell you that he thinks of me as a role model and I’m flattered that he says that,” Patterson said.

Flores’ father, Raul, was a merchant marine who was often away from their Brooklyn home for months. When Raul was away, Patterson – married to Raul’s sister – made an impact as he could for Flores and her brothers Raul Jr., Luis, Danny and Christopher.

“I’m just happy that we were able to step in and be a good role model for young men,” he said. “That’s all it takes, you just show them that you care.”

They “took joy in the little things,” Patterson said. Collecting cans for neighborhoods and bringing their profits to the arcade, bowling alley, camping – an assortment of activities that laid the foundation for their relationship.

Patterson was on hand last Sunday to watch his old favorite team play against his new favorite team.

“The Jets never did anything for me,” he joked. “Brian has done a lot for me.

Patterson introduced his nephew to football almost 30 years ago, and Flores appreciates the support Patterson has always shown him – from his childhood to this week when Miami (4-7) hosts the 5-6 Carolina Panthers ( 1 p.m. ET, Fox).

“The big thing for me with Darrell is that before football, first and foremost, he was always someone who was around me,” said Flores. “We are not related by blood, it was just someone who poured into me because it was in his heart to do so.”

Find soccer

On the afternoon he introduced Flores to football, Patterson said he came to visit Flores’ mother, Maria, on a beautiful fall day and saw Flores and her brothers watching the television. They told her that Maria was afraid to let them venture into their Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn.

“A bunch of our friends from college were in gangs,” Danny told ESPN in 2018. “Our parents didn’t want us to get involved in this culture and this way of life.”

But Patterson wasn’t going to waste the day, so he packed the kids into his car and drove to a field in neighboring Queens where a youth team was training.

“They were so excited their faces lit up,” Patterson said. “They saw the boys in their uniforms and gear and they knew that was what they wanted to do.”

The coach asked the then 12-year-old Flores to run 40 meters and was so impressed he told her to take some equipment in his van.

“He thought he was dead and gone to heaven,” Patterson said of Flores.

Flores said: “It didn’t take long… I fell in love with the game very quickly.”

Raul and Maria, immigrants from Honduras, knew nothing about football. However, if he had Patterson’s blessing and kept their boys out of trouble, they were on board.

Patterson was there “every step of the way,” Flores said. He took them to every practice, recorded every game, and watched them with his nephew from little league through high school, when Flores played for Poly Prep Country Day School.

Flores went on to play linebacker at Boston College, where he was when Patterson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000.

“He didn’t really want to tell anyone. I don’t even think I ever had the real word,” Flores said. “It was just, ‘Ah, I have cancer, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it.'”

Patterson underwent prostate removal, a procedure and recovery that made him unable to work. He retired from Ladder 118 in Brooklyn Heights four days before losing six men in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“I knew it had a big effect on him. It still is,” said Flores.

September 11, 2001

Patterson hears that the 9/11 memorial is nice, that the planners were tasteful in its construction. But he never was and has no interest in doing so.

He was working at a YMCA in Queens when he saw the reports on television. He ran to the nearest pay phone and called his extension – the old one, technically, but it didn’t matter at the time.

Paul DiPaolo of Engine 205 answered the phone.

“You better come here, it’s not good,” said DiPaolo.

Patterson drove his station wagon to the fire station to collect supplies and two other firefighters, and went to the site of the attack. The city bridges were closed, but once the police saw their equipment in the back of the station wagon, they let them pass. But eight hours had passed since the attacks and Patterson had little to do.

“We thought we were going to be part of a rescue effort, but there was no one to help,” he said. “It was just chaos and soot and dirt.”

Patterson used a disposable camera from a Duane Reade drugstore to photograph what he saw. He said he looked at the photos once before putting them in a box; he doesn’t think he’ll ever delete them again.

“If you look [the pictures], then the memories come back, “he said.” And you want to get away from it as much as possible. “

It is difficult for her to remember a lot of things about that day, but not the names of the men who died. Speaking on the phone, he begins to list them before cutting himself off.

A 26-year firefighter, Patterson would not have retired without his diagnosis.

“He definitely would have been in the towers,” Flores said. “I’m thankful he wasn’t and I’m just trying to make the most of the time I have with him now.”

Flores and her brothers call Patterson every year on Sept. 11 to let him know they’re thinking of him – “you can set your watch,” Patterson said.

The thought of their annual gesture almost makes him cry on the phone.

“Always text him”

Retired from firefighting but not far from work itself, Patterson currently teaches fire safety in New York City. He and Flores usually talk to each other on the phone once a week, although Patterson rarely calls.

“I always text him, I don’t call him because I know he’s on the phone with the league, with the owners, with the players – and he has a family,” Patterson said. “I don’t want to take them away.”

Flores shoots down this behavior whenever he can.

“‘Uncle Darrell, you can call me anytime.’ That’s what he’s telling me, “Patterson said. “I don’t think he knows how important he is. I don’t think anyone bothered to tell him he’s the coach of an NFL team.”

Flores, who has led Miami to three straight wins from a humiliating seven-game losing streak, knows this. In another scenario, he said he could have been a firefighter, a football coach on the side.

Patterson is touched by the revelation, but insists he can’t wait to see his nephew lift a Lombardi trophy with the Dolphins – Patterson’s new favorite team after giving up his Jets fandom.

Perhaps then the stoic Flores will crack a rare smile?

“It might take a little longer than that,” Patterson jokes.


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