Mary Jo White is investigating Hue Jackson’s retracted claim of tanking by the Browns

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If Mary Jo White needs a bigger boat, she’ll soon be able to afford one.

The NFL’s “independent investigator” of choice has added yet another project to a list that currently stands at three. Per the Browns, she’ll be investigating claims made by former head coach Hue Jackson that the team tanked on his watch.

“Even though Hue recanted his allegations a short time after they were made,” the team said, “it was important to us and to the integrity of the game to have an independent review of the allegations. We welcomed an investigation and we are confident the results will show, as we’ve previously stated, that these allegations are categorically false. We have fully cooperated with Mary Jo White and look forward to her findings.”

It’s not clear when the investigation began. The statement implies that it’s already underway, and that it’s been happening.

It’s also not clear whether the Browns asked for it, or whether the league initiated it.

After former Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged in his lawsuit against the team that owner Stephen Ross offered Flores $100,000 per loss in 2019. Jackson chimed in regarding a similar practice in Cleveland. We argued that the time that an investigation was needed, especially after the executive director of Jackson’s foundation claimed to have documentation 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.

The Browns strongly denied the claim. Jackson later backed off, saying he wasn’t offered money to lose games.

Obviously, a direct cash-for-clunking offer would create major problems, along with civil and criminal liability. But what if it wasn’t quite so direct? What if the Browns had a bonus system that was tied to factors that weren’t conducive to winning games?

Bonuses could have been based on, for example, unused cap space or extra draft picks or specific statistical achievements (or lack thereof) that would, if triggered, make it harder to win wouldn’t constitute an incentive to lose, but an incentive to engage in practices that will necessarily make it harder to win.

Regardless, White’s findings quite possibly will be influenced by her perception as to the findings that her client wants. That’s how the same lawyer often keeps getting asked to conduct “independent” investigations. The NFL is pleased with White’s work, and time will tell where her work leads in pending investigations against the Browns, the Dolphins, and the Commanders.

24 responses to “Mary Jo White is investigating Hue Jackson’s retracted claim of tanking by the Browns

  1. Tanking for higher draft picks? It’s done in all major American professional sport leagues.

  2. If Hue Jackson backed off the claim, which at the time appeared to piling on, what’s the reason for the investigation? Of course the Browns were clunking for draft picks, they received a draft pick for Brock Osweiller’s contract, right in front of the league commisioner…Where is this nobleness coming from all of a sudden.

  3. The Browns were probably tanking, and the NFL must investigate, but there’s a good chance Hue Jackson spouted off without there being much substance to what he said. Jackson is a hack and liked Mike McCarthy, full of crap. He’s a BS artist and he’s made a lot of money in doing so. But anyone with any sense can see that you can’t listen to him and you have to take anything he says with a grain of salt. His involvement only lessens any credibility the Brian Flores case may have initially had.

  4. Discrediting Jackson will go along way when the Flores case comes into play….

  5. One would think three investigations at once would be a lot, but I guess not when all have the same foregone conclusion. “Nothing to see here.”

  6. Greg Williams went 5-3 with the same team Hugh started 2-5-1 with……..and Hugh had Nick Chubb on the bench…..neither one of those statements are opinion……but fact.

  7. I allege I was offered a job, then refused to throw games….. Anyone know a good lawyer?

  8. This is the same Hue Jackson who also complained that the Browns didn’t inform him they’d be rebuilding

    Can’t make this stuff up

  9. The main take away here should be – draft ordered based on the team record is a terrible plan.

    The league has strong logical reasons retain the draft. but its easy to created a system where the draft isnt based on the previous years record.

  10. The first question to ask is, does Jimmy Haslam have any integrity? No, he does not. Therefore I don’t question the possibility that Jackson’s allegations are true.

    And then the other question is: some people got bonuses for going 1-31. Seems odd, right? Were the bonuses given because Haslam felt everyone was giving their best effort, but golly, 1-31 is the best they could do, so “A” for effort?

    We all know it when we see it, and we’ve seen multiple teams do it. Which is why the NFL needs a draft lottery.

  11. He’s the biggest dope of a hire in 20 years. Browns have to be shaking their head (er haslam) for pursuing that idiot. It’s the gift that keeps on giving Clark

  12. If the Browns lose any draft picks due to this investigation, the Browns will be in even more trouble trying to put a team around Watson.

  13. When there’s something to be investigated, the NFL drags their feet. When they think they can “win,” they rush to investigate. Given Hue’s waffling, the League figures they can pretend to investigate and say there was nothing there. This is just performative, to try to show Congress and the various Attorneys General that they take claims of illegality seriously.

  14. Mary Joe White; It’s not what you find when doing an internal investigation for your client. It is more a matter of knowing how far to go with certain aspects of the investigation and the subsequent report that is to be written. You will always consider your clients best interests first and foremost, and that means knowing when to stop digging into a certain allegation or aspect of the investigation. Go too far into something and you can find the naked truth and that more times than not is bad for the client. You see, when it is all over, you don’t want to lie in your report, that would be bad for ones personal reputation, however by manipulating the investigation, and throwing in, how should we say it, a few white lies, the client gets what they covet, and you get paid, and referrals. Good for the client and good for business. After all, what is the point of doing anything but for money, and the NFL certainly has plenty of that.

  15. Clearly the Browns were tanking. One need not look any further than who they hired as head coach. If I wanted to lose almost every game and go 1-31 for two seasons, there is no other choice than one Hugh Jackson.

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