On February 1, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged, among other things, that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season, in the hope of securing the first pick in the 2020 draft. The league launched an investigation.
Nearly six months later, the investigation remains unresolved. The NFL told PFT via email on Friday night that there is “no update” on the situation.
That was the same thing Commissioner Roger Goodell said during his most recent press conference, following quarterly ownership meetings in May. And, as we said at the time, how hard can it be to complete the investigation?
The league hired Mary Jo White to handle the probe. As previously reported by PFT, Flores cooperated fully with the league’s investigation into the question in April.
What else needs to be done? Interview Ross. Interview other top executives with the team, from co-owner Bruce Beal to team president Tom Garfinkel to G.M. Chris Grier to anyone Flores claims heard Ross make the offer.
Early in the process, NFL Network and NFL.com reported (until it didn’t) that an unnamed witness corroborated Flores. That’s an obvious avenue for investigation, given that the report came from an employee of the NFL itself.
Despite a preliminary sense in league circles that Ross could have a problem, the league has a larger issue. The Flores lawsuit.
In the initial complaint, the cash-for-clunking allegation wasn’t tied to any specific legal theory. The amended complaint specifically alleged that the termination of Flores’s employment was motivated in whole or in part by his decision to blow the whistle on the efforts of Ross to deliberately lose games.
If the NFL’s investigation concludes that Ross did it, the NFL will have made the Flores case stronger. There’s no way the NFL wants to do that.
Unless, of course, the league manages to move the Flores case to the league’s secret, rigged kangaroo court. If the motion to compel arbitration succeeds, then a finding that Ross crossed the line won’t matter as much to the Flores case, since the league will fully control the arbitration and the outcome.
If that’s what the league is waiting for, the delay will become even more conspicuous, because it could still be months before a final decision is made on whether the Flores case will be required to go to arbitration. But it’s already conspicuous, another example of the league tiptoeing on eggshells around the oligarchs who hire, pay, and retain the Commissioner and those who work for him — while simultaneously hammering players like Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley, who merely used an app on his phone while away from the Falcons to make a modest parlay wager and got summarily suspended for at least an entire year.