A shocking lawsuit was filed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores on Tuesday. This comes as the result of what Flores claims to be a racially discriminatory interview process that saw him turned down for jobs with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos after being unceremoniously fired by the Dolphins, despite the team winning eight of its last nine games this season. Also concerning, Flores claims Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss in 2019, as Ross coveted a higher draft pick.
That an owner would pay a coach money to lose games is troubling in itself. In light of the NFL’s embrace of sports betting, the optics are even worse.
To take it one step further, Ross’ RSE Ventures invested $17.5 million in The Action Network, a sports betting-related company, in 2019. The company is a marketing company and not a sportsbook in any capacity. Still, when the integrity of games is called into question, it’s a potential stain on the sports business and the sports betting industry.
According to Flores’ lawsuit, Flores rebuffed Ross’ offer. The Dolphins got off to an 0-7 start in 2019, but won five of their final nine that season. Flores describes Ross being “mad” about the wins.
Per an interview on ESPN’s Get Up with Mike Greenberg, Flores said, “This was a conversation about not doing what we needed to do to win football games. … (Ross said), Take a flight. Go on vacation. I’ll give you $100,000 per loss. Those are exact words.”
It is unknown at this point what, if any, proof of this conversation Flores can produce.
In a statement, the Dolphins said, “The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect.”
Ross personally responded with a statement late Wednesday night.
“With regards to the allegations being made by Brian Flores, I am a man of honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding,” Ross said (via NFL.com). “I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory. We understand there are media stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully. I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”
Below is an excerpt from the lawsuit, posted by business writer Alex Weprin.
Here's the relevant section of the lawsuit: pic.twitter.com/BQnuKOGc0d
— Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) February 1, 2022
NFL Denies All Claims Of Flores’ Lawsuit
The NFL needed just two hours to deny these claims. The official statement from the NFL can be found below.
Flores claims John Elway and the brass in Denver showed up an hour late to his interview and were visibly hungover. Also, the Giants had a backroom deal with Brian Daboll to be their coach before Flores even interviewed, which was mistakenly revealed to Flores in a text from Bill Belichick (the Pats coach wanted to congratulate Daboll but mixed up the Brians in his contact list).
Here's the real headline: Flores knows this because Bill Belichick mistakenly congratulated him, not Brian Daboll, three days before the interview. (images from the complaint) pic.twitter.com/sUWjXYWARn
— Ben Fischer (@BenFischerSBJ) February 1, 2022
Last but certainly not least, the Dolphins owner offered Flores $100k for a lost game, according to the suit.
How, exactly, could the NFL know the claims by Flores are “without merit” two hours after the suit emerged? https://t.co/tic1LAXo8t
— Peter King (@peter_king) February 1, 2022
The link to all 58 pages of the lawsuit, all claims of which the NFL immediately denied, can be found here.
Here at Gaming Today, we cover mostly sports betting-related topics. The thrust of Flores’ accusations are related to racial inequality in the hiring process. These claims are neither unfounded nor ignored by us. Change is needed.
Stephen Ross Controversy
Regardless of the sports betting implications, Stephen Ross could be in some serious trouble for violating the integrity of the game. This all comes with the caveat that Flores has anything to prove that this conversation happened.
Even if he doesn’t, Flores has reasons not to make this conversation up out of thin air. This lawsuit and its allegations seriously jeopardize, if not ruin, his NFL coaching career.
Moreover, former Browns coach Hue Jackson is claiming a similar arrangement with his former employer, and Kimberly Diemert, the executive director of Jackson’s foundation, says they have records to support Flores’ case.
Hue Jackson suggests he was paid extra for losses as Browns head coach. https://t.co/NZJv37PwkP
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 2, 2022
Sports betting is backed by the expectation that teams play in a legitimate attempt to win. The NFL is heavily invested in sports betting and elbows-deep in the industry, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Should Ross could be found culpable of these offers to Flores, the NFL would have to come down on the owner with massive penalties, perhaps even forcing him to sell the team.