When a statement appeared last night on Twitter from the Browns regarding the existence of an NFL investigation into claims of tanking made in early February by former head coach Hue Jackson, the reason for the timing of the disclosure wasn’t immediately clear. As it turns out, the Browns were providing a quote to SI.com in connection with an investigation on the matter.
As part of the investigation, SI.com obtained a comment directly from Jackson. He claims he previously reported the situation to the NFL.
“Two years ago I tried to do this the right way, through the bylaws and constitution of the National Football League, to ask them to investigate the Cleveland Browns for all the allegations that I’ve made,” Jackson said. “So why open an investigation now?”
It’s the latest confusing comment from Jackson on the matter. He made the claim that he was paid to lose games, and then he retreated from it. Now, he’s going the other way.
As explained last night, this may not be a situation of Jackson claiming that he received a specific offer of money for losing games. Instead, Jackson could be alleging that the Browns had a system of incentives tied to factors that made it harder to win, such as unused cap space or stockpiled draft picks or other factors that would point to an analytics-based strategy of building a better team in the future by not being very good in the present.
That’s essentially what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted, based on the claims made by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Ross wasn’t looking to lose games because he was placing bets on the team’s opponents. Ross, under the theory advanced by Flores, wanted to lose games in 2019 in order to secure the top pick in the 2020 draft.
The Browns, on Jackson’s watch, secured the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 and 2018. Thus, if they had a system of incentives based on losing now to win later, the first part worked. The second part didn’t work quite as well, at least not yet.