NFL must investigate tanking allegations against Dolphins, Browns

Indianapolis Colts v Miami Dolphins
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The NFL thrives in good times and in bad. The bad times that have suddenly arrived on the NFL’s doorstep may test that reality like nothing ever has.

The league has its first major integrity-of-the-game scandal of the legalized betting era. Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores claims that team owner Stephen Ross offered Flores $100,000 per loss in 2019. Former Browns coach Hue Jackson has made similar claims, and the executive director of Jackson’s foundation claims that she has documentation to show that Jackson, former Browns executive Sashi Brown, current Browns executive Paul DiPodesta, and current G.M. Andrew Berry received bonuses in 2016 and 2017, seasons that culminated in the Browns “earning” the first overall pick in the next draft.

So what will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell do about this? Will owners, who are supposedly held to the same standard as players (eye roll emoji), be investigated aggressively? Will they be punished, if the facts show that the contentions are true?

Or will the league look the other way, brushing the claims under the rug and/or aggressively denying their accuracy and/or pretending like none of it ever happened?

It may be impossible for the league to do nothing. Congress already has taken action regarding the clumsy coverup of the Washington Football Team toxic workplace investigation. How long until one or more committees send a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell seeking information about the claim that multiple teams TRIED TO LOSE GAMES?

Although the incentive for bad teams to lose games in order to enhance draft status has hidden in plain sight for decades, specific and troubling allegations of ownership acting on that temptation are unprecedented. While it makes sense to take a short-term hit in order to secure a team’s long-term interests (indeed, how much better would the Dolphins be right now if they’d secure the ability to draft Joe Burrow?), it’s jarring to see that an owner allegedly has made the strategic decision to try to lose games, and allegedly has attached a specific and significant financial incentive to it.

In early 2018, before the Supreme Court opened the gambling floodgates, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban freely admitted to tanking in order to enhance draft status in an appearance with Dan Patrick. Cuban was fined $600,000 for his comments. For the NFL, the consequences likely would be far more severe. If it’s proven that Stephen Ross or Jimmy Haslam or any other owner incentivized losing, that owner should immediately be forced to sell.

We’ll see whether the NFL does the right thing. Or whether it does the predictable thing.

111 responses to “NFL must investigate tanking allegations against Dolphins, Browns

  1. Deshone Kizer would drive all the way down the field just fine and then inexplicably throw an interception in his own end zone with no WR within 5 yards of the ball. 10 times in the 2017 season. Yes an investigation is warranted.

  2. NFL has “no comment”? Browns and Fins should be in the firing line for stealing their fans hard earned dollars and efforting “lose for payment” schemes. This is the “tip of the iceberg”, the NFL is on notice.

  3. I attended a game. Yeah, one of those games that The Dolphins tanked and I want my money refunded!!!! I think they played the Cincinnati Reds!

  4. I call BS on any allegation Huey makes. I cannot believe that coaches that are paid millions of dollars, are going to be swayed by a measly hundred grand per loss. you win someone will eventually pay you more.

  5. They’ll do the predictable thing: “Tut, tut, nothing to see. It has been handled internally.”

  6. Wait, I thought Flores said he was canned because the Dolphins are racists. Now it’s because he is a champion for the integrity of the game? The goalposts are moving. Hell hath no fury like an under-qualified multi-millionaire scorned.

  7. Someone needs to investigate the Vikings. Their coaches haven’t won a SB in 60 years. How much is paid out each year for not winning it all?

  8. In the world of legalized gambling this is a no no. Please force Ross to sell the team. He’s incompetent. Hello Jeff Bezos…

  9. So what can and should The NFL do?

    If proven, the NFL has the ability to:

    Fine teams
    -Likely but highly insufficient outcome.

    Take draft picks
    -The Broncos shouldn’t get comfortable picking 11 times.
    -The Giants should be stripped of 1 of their 2 1st rd picks.

    Void contracts
    -players have had contracts voided. In theory, they could decide to not approve Hackett and Daboll contracts, tell them to start the searches over. Had either team hired Quinn, they’d have an argument they hired most qualified coach. Do they have to hire most qualified or can they hire whoever they like? Quinn and Frazier are more qualified than Flores but Hackett and Daboll are not even close.

    Remove owners
    -Unlikely and complicated process but Miami and Cleveland ownership shouldn’t feel too comfortable

  10. Make sure the investigation starts in about 1990 ’cause these teams’ve been tanking for the past 30 years.

  11. So is there any documentation that the owners incentivized the coaches to lose games? Paying a bonus at the end of the year is at the sole discretion of the owners – and is not the same as telling the coaches before or during the season to lose as many games as possible.

    Without proof, its all speculation. I dont see anyone offering emails, letters, video, etc proving that they were told to do this. I think that if such proof exists it would be difficult for the league to not respond. But allegations without corroborating proof could also be seen as sour grapes by former employees.

  12. I think fans who paid money for these games should sue them. People pour in their hard earned money for tickets, merchandise, food, parking, etc. To root for a team they understand isnt very good, but that they simply love, a game they love.. and are under the assumption these guys are doing their best top to bottom, players, coaches, executives, to give them the best product they can.

    Well if that “contract” is violated, these people should be compensated.

  13. Just curious, tanking is certainly a repulsive activity, but is it actually against the rules? A team that does it has to live with their result and we have seen results are not necessarily what they wanted.

  14. There is also the gambling aspect. Someone close to the org knows the inevitable result of the upcoming game and places big bets on the outcome at various casinos or online apps and voila – losing is winning.

  15. They should investigate my Patriots as well. What else can explain giving up 7 TDs in 7 possessions to the Bills?

  16. I have a feeling once all the allegations are out in the open it’ll be painfully obvious the Bears have been trying to win this whole time.

  17. This is what Miami needs to rid itself of Stephen Ross.

    Adios. That’s what happens when a Jets fan buys the Fins.

  18. They should go back to the Colts SUCK FOR LUCK tank job too…. It’s OBVIOUS THERE that’s exactly what happened!!!!!
    FINALLY, it looks like a TRUE INVESTIGATION into the integrity of the game & a team trying to get a TRUE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE is going to have to take place, not some moronic trumped up BS like
    #defltategate was or even #spygate was for that matter….. gonna be watching this one with some interest!!!!!

  19. Im fine if they are not investigated. Thats the risk you take and why they call it gambling.

    It happens in all sports whether for better position draft wise or for monitoring player workload.

    Get over it. In the end it is for benefit of the team in the long run for the most part.

  20. This seems more significant than BountyGate on the integrity of the game. Bonuses to lose games.

  21. I am a big time Dolphins fan and have been for more than 40 yrs. But even I have to say that this warrants a full blown and exhaustive investigation into payment for tanking. I’ll even go so far as to say that Stephen Ross is the worst owner in the NFL. He needs to sell this team to someone who actually cares about football.

  22. That worm Goodell repeatedly said it was for the “integrity of the game” when explaining Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension. If it truly means that much to him,he should throw those owners out of the league. Here’s betting he won’t, and will concoct some talking point so they skate.

  23. I can fix tanking in the NFL tomorrow. Stop giving worse teams better draft picks. They are worse because they have failed in an equitable system. Why should they get rewarded? Just set up a rotational system. Over 32 years everyone gets the top pick once, and in round 2 it is reversed. If you pick 1st overall, your next pick is 64. If you pick 32nd, you also get 33. You will know years in advance when you pick, so trading draft picks becomes much more certain as well.

    Honestly, why should the Rams and Bengals be punished for being successful in a system with a salary cap and revenue sharing? Why should Jacksonville be rewarded for losing? Let’s just change how we set up the whole thing. Competitive issues solved.

  24. How much did these owners pocket in incentives through players contracts that were not met do to the tanking? How many players were cheated potentially million dollar paydays for the teams to tank?

  25. Many times I find myself in disagreement with Florio but not this time. Getting paid to lose is as serious as it comes for the NFL. They immediately must adopt a policy of “banned from the league for life” for anybody paying or being paid to lose. Period.

  26. Trust me on this one: No one is more credible than Hue Jackson. Just adk “Can’tMiss” Cody Kessler

  27. Wake up people, this has been happening for a long time in ALL professional sports. And I wouldn’t believe anything Hue Jackson says about anything…!!!

  28. How about a class action suit from season ticket holders for purposely losing?

    Or a class action suit from people who lost money betting on them?

  29. Take away future draft picks. It’s not like we use them effectively anyways.

  30. Simple fix for tanking for the number 1 pick, do like the NHL and make it a lottery for the worst 7 teams. Purposely lose all your games then end up with the 7th pick (which should be out of the top QB range) wouldn’t make any sense.

  31. So how does anyone tell the difference between tanking and just bad? The Browns have looked stunningly incompetent since they got their new team regardless of owner. Stephen Ross is one of the NFL’s most inept owners. Investigate? Yes. But I wouldn’t count on any evidence being found.

  32. I think everyone with even a passing interest in the NFL (or any other professional sport, for that matter) understands that teams tank ALL THE TIME when they see benefit in it (suck for Luck, anyone?). The righteous indignation being thrown around because some teams may have rewarded their personnel for carrying out these plans seems a little…fake…and misplaced. The problem isn’t the team, it’s the system – it is 100% completely rational to choose to lose a couple of extra games during a season that you’re out of contention in if it means you can get a generational talent the next. Don’t want teams to tank? Mitigate the incentive.

  33. People on the internet are gonna have a field day with this lawsuit..

  34. “nfldivas says:
    February 2, 2022 at 11:26 am
    Simple fix for tanking for the number 1 pick, do like the NHL and make it a lottery for the worst 7 teams. Purposely lose all your games then end up with the 7th pick (which should be out of the top QB range) wouldn’t make any sense.”
    Exactly!

  35. This “TANKING ISSUE” can be resolved (for future reference) by making a lottery out of the remaining teams after the playoffs have been finalized by giving ALL those teams just 1 chance in a random drawing DURING the two week break between the conference championship & the Super Bowl….. they could make it a nationally televised event like the draft & take in TONS MORE MONEY that goes towards the development of player safety & health benefits to retired players…… SIMPLE!!!
    Tanking would no longer exist!!!

  36. Before too many go off the rails here. Purposefully losing games, while not unheard of, does an enormous disservice to the integrity of the game. Objectively it amounts to cheating, even when in the interests of improving draft status for the future. In this case even far worse. An owner allegedly offered substantial financial incentive for losses. Ross didn’t discover some innocuous loophole in league rules to make the team he owns better in the future. He robbed everyone without knowledge of his scheme from their expectation of honest competition. All the players that risked their health and coaches who had their time and efforts wasted should rightly be outraged, not to mention fans. The sordid rumors of games being fixed through predetermined outcomes with the state of officiating was bad enough. Now, until this is sorted out, likely in courts or by Congressional decree, how could anyone have an expectation of “integrity of the game?” If these allegations prove true, Ross should at the very least be stripped of his majority owner stake and not realize the two and a half billion in appreciation the franchise has experienced. The unfortunate part of this is it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on Flores allegations of racial discrimination. Not necessarily a wholly separate issue or mutually exclusive because it may have to do with why he was initially approached with the scheme and contributed to why he was fired.

  37. Didn’t Doug Peterson tank a game and then get fired? Did that come from the owner/GM or did he do it as a favor for the next coach?

  38. pigskingal says:
    February 2, 2022 at 11:05 am
    Roger’s presser before the SB is gonna be one for the ages. I can’t wait.
    ——————————-
    I’m pretty certain it will be cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

  39. If Hue or Brian have texts proving tanking then the NFL is in deep trouble. This kind of deliberate manipulation of games is all too common. Now that can of worms has been opened.

  40. Why didn’t Coach Flores alert the NFL the moment the $100,000 to intentionally lose games was offered? It sounds like Flores and his legal team are throwing whatever they can at the wall to see what sticks.

  41. Aren’t there such things as non-disparagement agreements when a coach is fired? I remember Bud Carson was careful not to say anything bad about Art Modell for fear of getting money clawed back. If so,I’d go for every last penny from Hue Jackson.

  42. You have to wonder with Brady retiring if BB sent that text on purpose as payback to Goddell for Spygate, deflategate etc.

  43. Are people really shocked that teams tank? The goal of tanking is to make your team better long term. Imagine how much better Miami would be with Burrow.

  44. It’s time for a lottery style draft in the NFL.

    All the teams that didn’t make the playoffs get randomly slotted into the draft. Playoff teams get spots as they do now.

    If you want to stop tanking, this would do it.

  45. Sorry, but if you tug on this thread, there aren’t too many teams that’d be immune (“Suck for Luck, etc.”), so why focus on just two? Receiving a bonus for weathering the storm of a rebuild, and the damage it can do to the reputations of coaches and front office personnel, is not necessarily indicative of corrupt practices. When a team gets rid of their quality vets to “rebuild through the draft,” what they’re really trying to do is suck enough to get a good QB and a few pieces to build around. I don’t really have a problem with it, so long as the team doesn’t expressly incentivize or instruct coaches/players to throw games, as it appears the Fins did–though I don’t know why they went to such extremes. If Ross wanted to lose that bad, he could’ve just hired himself as GM and put me at QB. I am an unrestricted free agent, with experience in missed field goals, interceptions, and MS Word. Clear eyes, full heart, and can totally lose.

  46. The NFL will probably switch to a lottery which is sad because I hate the top pick being decided based off of luck, and I don’t feel like leagues with lotteries have stopped tanking because of it. If a team is not making the playoffs even with a lottery it’s still better to win fewer games.

  47. Deshone Kizer would drive all the way down the field just fine and then inexplicably throw an interception in his own end zone with no WR within 5 yards of the ball. 10 times in the 2017 season. Yes an investigation is warranted.

    **************************************************

    The QB was Kizer… no need to tank, he’ll do it for you.

  48. Bad teams tanking for draft position DO NOT have a negative effect on gambling. Odds makers already account for bad teams losing for draft position.

    Competitive teams throwing meaningful games, is an issue. Examples would be throwing championship games, games with playoff births on the line… etc.

  49. Flim flamming fans and especially season ticket holders. May as well watch WWE where at least they don’t deny it’s all staged.

  50. Hilarious with all these “Fans should SUE!!”. Um, read the tickets – it’s to attend a football game. If they watched a game, the contract is completed. There is no guarantee of anything like every player puts in 100% effort or teams tries to win.

    The ticket is literally just a contract to watch a game. That’s it.

  51. hazydavey says:
    February 2, 2022 at 11:14 am
    I can fix tanking in the NFL tomorrow. Stop giving worse teams better draft picks. They are worse because they have failed in an equitable system. Why should they get rewarded? Just set up a rotational system. Over 32 years everyone gets the top pick once, and in round 2 it is reversed. If you pick 1st overall, your next pick is 64. If you pick 32nd, you also get 33. You will know years in advance when you pick, so trading draft picks becomes much more certain as well.

    Honestly, why should the Rams and Bengals be punished for being successful in a system with a salary cap and revenue sharing? Why should Jacksonville be rewarded for losing? Let’s just change how we set up the whole thing. Competitive issues solved.

    ———————————
    The Patriots were successful for 20 years while picking from the back every year. Maybe not a 20 year run but the Steelers have some stretches of that in their history too. And a few other teams. Conversely the Jets, Jags, and Browns have stayed at the bottom a ton despite a huge history of ‘earning’ high draft picks. So I dont think it makes as much difference as folks think.

  52. If they’re going to do that, they 1,000% need to investigate the Eagles for their conduct against the Redskins in the last game of the 2020 season — and specifically what instructions were given from the front office (Howie Roseman) to Doug Pederson. Most blatant tank job in league history, and there’s no way in the world it was Pederson’s decision.

  53. Didn’t Ross invest in a sports gambling startup a couple years back?

    That’s… not a great look.

  54. I have no doubt this story is true, but I also doubt Ross is stupid enough to put that $100K/loss offer in writing or have a directive to tank recorded in any fashion. Further, assistant coaches are going to be afraid to corroborate this allegation for fear of being blackballed. Combine that with Goodell covering the posterior of the NFL owners (See, Snyder, Dan), and all that stinks, cause the hammer should come down on hard on Ross for that baloney.

  55. “nfldivas says:
    February 2, 2022 at 11:26 am
    Simple fix for tanking for the number 1 pick, do like the NHL and make it a lottery for the worst 7 teams. Purposely lose all your games then end up with the 7th pick (which should be out of the top QB range) wouldn’t make any sense.”
    ————————-
    Or throw out the worst to first draft order completely. Put 32 balls in a lottery machine and pull them out one by one to determine the draft order.

    That will end tanking. Would be fun seeing all the trades that would come out of it.

  56. A possible outcome of this…a lottery for all non-playoff bound teams. Then we can talk about tampering with the lottery balls.

  57. The joke is on everyone who thought these games were legit to begin with. Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Montana, Bradshaw, Unitas and even Starr have all had scripted careers. These players don’t care if they’re forced to win or lose. The same stuff goes on in the NBA and MLB as well.

  58. In the case of Hue Jackson, we saw things play out on Hard Knocks and then during the season that didn’t sit well with me. It seemed clear that Dorsey was an instigator and purposefully wanted Hue out. It made no sense as to why they didn’t replace him before the season. I’m sure ownership had at least promised to give Hue a shot with a real NFL roster since they denied him that during his first 2 years, but he was a lame duck coach. And the way they pinned all the blame on him and basically ran him out of the NFL was just wrong. Dorsey was the one who brought in his guy at OC Todd Haley, and that system failed miserably. Hue asked to take over the offense and they denied him the chance and then fired him, promoted Kitchens and implemented the system that Hue wanted to implement. They turned everyone against Hue, so when he tried to speak out, no one listened or they just dismissed it as sour grapes. I can’t say Hue Jackson was ever a good Head Coach, but he did know how to run an offense. By Flores speaking out and suing, this gives Hue a chance to be heard as well. I don’t follow the Dolphins too closely, but Flores really did seem to know what he was doing.

  59. Vegas won’t let this fly. It’s basically a game-fixing scandal committed by owners. The US government will be getting involved if Roger doesn’t take action to properly investigate it. Roger’s job will be on the line too.

  60. “beachsidejames says:
    February 2, 2022 at 11:22 am
    Can Ross counter sue for defamation if Flores can’t make those charges stick”
    —————————————–
    Absolutely. In the US you can sue or countersue almost anyone for almost anything.
    Will he? Not a chance. The last thing he wants is being open to questions about what he did or did not do in 2019.
    As a season ticket holder that year I can tell you that the allegations are very credible. Flores fought Ross and the FO that year for every win.

  61. Kevin Stefanski should be investigated then fired for now his idiotic play calling makes all the sense in the world now and his benching of Nick Chubb non stop

  62. Cleveland was 17-30-1 against the spread from 2016-2018 when Hue Jackson was the coach (from Stathead). It was worst performance against the spread in the league over that time. That’s major cause for concern in my opinion.

  63. So many are missing the point of TANKING.
    You have legal sports betting growing by leaps and bounds. The major sports leagues avoided Las Vegas for decades because they were concerned about games getting “The Fix”. Here you have NFL OWNERS fixing games.
    C’mon Man !!! If there’s a grain of truth to the accusations,… both owners have to be removed,… franchises taken back by the NFL and sold.
    And then File Charges against both owners for fraud.

  64. Rod Marinelli will never mend fences with Detroit until he is paid what he is owed for going 0-16.

  65. The FBI raided Jimmy Haslam’s business Pilot Flying J. It’s time the FBI raided Browns Headquarters. This guy is scum through and through. Lock him up.

  66. The Panthers previous owner was forced to sell his team for doing much less. Just saying.

  67. They’ll be releasing their report on tanking for cash right after they finish up their report on PSI averages in footballs.

  68. What about Mahomes tanking allegations against Cinci? Look no further than the last play on regulation. 6 open targets yet he’s running around like Ricky Bobby. No pressure, no coverage, just multiple decisions not to get a touchdown.

  69. So happy Flores refused payment. Hopefully Ross sells the team so they can start over with a clean rep. I win

  70. And people think games are not fixed in ALL sports.
    Money will always win just look at the state of the World.

  71. If the allegations against the Dolphins are true, the owner should be forced to sell the team, and the team should be relocated to another City!!!

  72. I like the current system for draft picks, but not the tanking part, it’s just ridiculous.

  73. If the NFL had a draft lottery, there would inevitably be a 10 win team that doesn’t make the playoffs and would have a chance at the number one pick while a team under .500 that wins a weak division would not.

  74. Unfortunately no one can find any evidence of tanking on purpose in Detroit…

    Nope, they try. They are just that bad at assembling a team. Every. Year.

  75. If this is all true, how can we not assume refs can be bought with some of the calls we see, year after year.

  76. If people think it’s corrupt now, imagine how much more corrupt a draft lottery would be. We all know the story of the rigging of the NBA lottery, right??

  77. If Ross was that into tanking, then why did he allow Ryan Fitzpatrick to be signed? No, you’re not going to go to the playoffs with Fitzpatrick, but he is going to win some games.

  78. Dolphins didn’t seem like they were trying very hard when they played Dallas early in the 2019 season. Then, all of a sudden, it was like they woke up and realized what they were doing, and made it a game.

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