Stephen Ross, Jimmy Haslam could be prosecuted for violating the Sports Bribery Act

Getty Images

As we continue to get our arms around the far-reaching implications of the landmark lawsuit filed against the NFL and multiple teams on Tuesday by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, it’s possible that some wrists will end up encased in handcuffs.

While appearing on Dan Abrams’s SiriusXM POTUS 124 show earlier in the hour, we discussed the possibility of a prosecutor convening a grand jury on the specific question of whether Dolphins owner Stephen Ross or Browns owner Jimmy Haslam bribed coaches and/or others to deliberately lose football games. Flores has accused Ross of offering $100,000 per loss; former Browns coach Hue Jackson has suggested that Haslam did something similar.

The Sports Bribery Act criminalizes such conduct. Under 18 U.S.C. § 224, “Whoever carries into effect, attempts to carry into effect, or conspires with any other person to carry into effect any scheme in commence to influence, in any way, by bribery any sporting contest, with knowledge of the purpose of such scheme is to influence by bribery that contests, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

Based on the language of the statute, it doesn’t matter whether the offer is accepted. Liability arises if the person “carries into effect” the scheme or “attempts to carry into effect” the bribe. The mere offer of $100,000 to Flores, without more, would constitute a violation by Ross.

As to the Browns, acceptance of the inducement and acting on it would potentially extend criminal responsibility beyond Haslam. Jackson, if he acted on those offers and received those payments, would be potentially in trouble as well.

Whether anything happens with this angle of the controversy remains to be seen. But federal prosecutors have broad discretion as to the cases they will bring or not bring. Flores and Jackson have said more than enough to get someone’s attention. And that could be more than enough get someone indicted, sooner or latter.

71 responses to “Stephen Ross, Jimmy Haslam could be prosecuted for violating the Sports Bribery Act

  1. It was always just a matter of to what extent Ross was going to pile-drive the Dolphins further into oblivion. Now we know…….

  2. Time to start a new clock for NFL management criminal activity like there used to be for player crimes.

  3. As they should be. Prosecute them to the fullest extent, fine them tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, give them jail time and force sales of the teams.

  4. Thankful that law exists. The last thing I want to hear in a situation like this is the “it was wrong, but not illegal” argument.

  5. Now we know the reason Daboll shunned the Dolphins. He must have known something most of us didn’t know.

  6. No way any NFL owner or executive does time over this. They’ll get fined and be working somewhere else next year.

  7. What about Hue Jackson? If he accepted money to lose games, that’s totally criminal.

  8. That also criminalizes a bonus for winning a game. It’s a payment that “in any way” is for the purpose of influencing the contest.

  9. But it’s fine for MLB teams to send a triple A level team out there while selling off their top talent.

  10. Really hard to litigate without a paper trail. But just the spectre of this could affect the NFL, sports books, etc. And the “game is fixed” crowd will love this.

  11. And if Flores and Hue are found to be lying, they both need to end up in bracelets with the same exact charges

  12. The whole NFL gambling partnership was bound to lead to this. It was likely already happening to some degree, but now the corruption is on steroids.

  13. It’s unbelievable this guy tried to tank again after tanking for Tua, lol seriously are you kidding me?

  14. Doug Pederson: “You mean you got paid to tank? I tanked and was made the fall guy! “

  15. codylshs00 says:
    February 2, 2022 at 3:45 pm
    Jackson and Flores should go down too if they accepted it.


    Looks like Jackson did, and admitted it for some reason. Flores is saying he was fired for not accepting it.

  16. Why is this a shock? I remember most sports media adopting the ‘tanking for Tua’ slogan. It was being done right in front of our eyes.

  17. Mark Cuban desperately needs this to happen for his NFL prediction. Otherwise, he’s just shooting his mouth off.

  18. From the email cover-up to the Flores lawsuit and the resulting fall-out you have to wonder if a lot more shenanigans will ooze up from the woodwork. The NFL house of cards seems to have reached a tipping point…

  19. Wow, get to work Rodger… This is how Mr. Godell earns his 50 Million or so a year. Cover it up.

  20. What’s crazy is they would pay to have a 11-14 loss team to tank…. Figure they were doing it already… for free

  21. And if there’s no proof Brian Flores has opened himself up to a libel suit. He better have evidence to back up his claims.

  22. Jim Irsay should be sweating as well in his Suck for Luck tanking of the season. Remember when the Colts started Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, and Kerry Collins the whole season?

  23. Hey Stephen Ross! Instead of tanking hold your terrible GM and scouting staff accountable for passing on Justin Herbert right there for the taking for free and drafting terrible for two years. Pathetic.

  24. Both of them are actual losers–owners of dysfunctional franchises and obviously shady. Hope they get prosecuted

  25. There’s needs to be an investigation as to why only minority coaches are being asked to lose games!

  26. Man, the Super Bowl is coming up. This situation is going to loom over the game. It won’t be pretty, all the storylines: How do we know the Super Bowl isn’t rigged? You know the media will go with it.

  27. Flores is most definitely the definition of a disguntled ex employee. After being paid millions to be an NFL coach he decides to open this can of worms. Talk about biting the hand that fed you.

  28. It’s one thing to accuse and another to be able to prove it in a criminal court. I doubt any of this is documented anywhere. It is funny that the NFL is backing the Dolphins. If it were the Patriots it would be the NFL version of the Death Penalty.

  29. I’m pretty sure you have to prove he did it first and Flores is a long way away from that. It would make no sense for Ross to pay Flores to throw games. He could have just kept trading players away if he wanted that first pick. No need for Flores to bribe anyone. In the NFL the trade deadline is about mid season. And since the Dolphins actually did that before the season started it’s not like they hadn’t thought of it to get the first pick. Flores is just trying to keep Miami from getting a coach soon. He’s sticking it to Ross and acting just like the organization said he did which caused his firing.

  30. Only the NFL could use a game fixing scandal to cover up a racism scandal. Wow. Just, wow.

  31. Nothing like a little NFL drama to fill the gap til Superbowl. If Ross wanted the team to tank he should have just fired Flores and hire his nephew to finish the season.

  32. NFL has 1 black coach and very little, if any black ownership and a league of workers that are 80 percent black. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots there to see what this looks like in its modern form. Smarten up NFL. It is 2022 and there are many black coaching candidates worthy of a head coaching job and other high ranking administrative positions.

  33. Get ready for congress to get involved in this mess. This is exactly why there should be NO betting in pro sports like Football, Baseball, Hockey and Basketball. I would dare say not even Dodgeball.

  34. Moving forward, the owners will just resort to innuendos or have their consiglieri deliver the message.
    And that’s the world we live in.

  35. Imagine the subpoenad emails and text messages that the feds will want. Imagine what they’ll find not related to these accusations, much like the WFT situation

  36. Come on Jimmie Haslaam would never do something illegal, he was just giving a rebate to Hue……..

  37. If true, they should be stripped of their franchises regardless of any other punishment.

  38. As a long time Miami Dolphins fan, and someone who has supported Ross as an owner over the years, I hope he gets a hefty fine and is forced to sell the team.

  39. Jackson already backtracking on his paid for tanking charge. Took him one day to come clean.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.