Days after former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged in a lawsuit that team owner and billionaire developer Stephen Ross offered to pay to lose games, the NFL is reported to be readying an investigation into the claim.
A person familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal the NFL will investigate Flores’ claim Ross offered to pay him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season, Flores’ first as the Dolphins coach. The organization will also probe other allegations in Flores’ lawsuit, which describe systematic racial discrimination in the league.
Losing games on purpose to score a higher draft pick, often referred to as “tanking,” is not an uncommon practice in professional sports. But it often involves a team simply being built not to succeed, rather than an owner bribing organizational members to lose.
In a statement, Ross denied the allegations brought against him by Flores as “false, malicious and defamatory.”
“We understand there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully,” Ross said through a spokesperson. “I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”
The Miami Dolphins have also denied the allegations, saying, “The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect.”
Flores was fired in January after leading the Dolphins to the first back-to-back winning seasons in almost two decades. According to the complaint, he was labeled as someone who was “difficult to work for,” which the complaint links to racist tropes.
“This is reflective of an all too familiar ‘angry black man’ stigma that is often casted upon Black men who are strong in their morals and convictions while white men are coined as passionate for those very same attributes,” the complaint says.
Flores’ lawsuit claimed the NFL discriminated against him and other Black coaches, coordinators and general managers in its hiring process. The complaint references Flores’ recent interview for the New York Giants’ head coaching position, which was labeled a “sham process.”
Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson followed up Flores’ lawsuit by making similar accusations of his team incentivized losing during his tenure, which the franchise denies, according to ESPN. Jackson has expressed a willingness to join Flores’ lawsuit.
Ross first invested in the Dolphins franchise in 2008, eventually taking full control of the franchise and its stadium in Miami Gardens.
[WSJ] — Holden Walter-Warner