The NFL owes Brian Flores an apology. The former Miami Dolphins head coach who took on the NFL alleging racial discrimination in its hiring of coaches received a win that ultimately proves he kept the integrity and sanctity of the game intact.
Upon investigating Flores’ claim that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, asked him to lose games to secure higher selections in the draft, the NFL found that Ross did want him to lose games intentionally. However, the league stopped short of saying Ross violated tanking rules, but they did say that comments made by his former boss could be interpreted that way.
The NFL commended Flores for coaching to win, amid Ross implying otherwise.
So, to be clear, the NFL's investigation into the claim that Stephen Ross offered Brian Flores $100,000 per loss found "ahh he was just kidding, that's just how Stephen jokes around"? pic.twitter.com/Z1JvDFzat3
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) August 2, 2022
“The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to win and the Dolphins competed to win every game. Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“The Dolphins did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season,” the league found. “Nor did anyone at the club, including Mr. Ross, instruct Coach Flores to do so. No witness contended otherwise. The Dolphins competed hard to win every game, including at the end of the season when they beat Cincinnati and New England, despite worsening Miami’s position in the 2020 draft.”
Feels like a stretch. If you read the Flores lawsuit and the league-ordered independent investigation, it's tough to come to conclusion that it cleared the organization on "all of Brian Flores other allegations," particularly the tampering components. https://t.co/KDcC2vLtVt
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 2, 2022
The NFL also let Ross off the hook for Flores’ claim that he was offered a $100,000 bonus to lose games, although the league doesn’t deny that the words were said, just that they were not intended as a serious request.
“However phrased, such a comment was not intended or taken to be a serious offer,” the NFL said.
With integrity and the same grace in the face of immense obstacles that he faced when first levying the charges, Flores issued a statement.
Statements from Brian Flores and his attorneys on the Dolphins’ punishment. pic.twitter.com/9UZGDlDeLV
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 2, 2022
“I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true,” Flores said in the statement. “At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’s offers and pressure to tank games, especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at the time, which the investigator has in her possession.
“While the investigator found that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence. There is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game. When the integrity of the game is called into question, fans suffer, and football suffers.”
BREAKING: The #Dolphins will forfeit a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and third-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft and owner Stephen Ross is suspended through October 17, 2022 after a league investigation.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 2, 2022
The Dolphins organization is being punished for a Flores allegation that was completely substantiated by the league: tampering. Ross has been suspended until October and barred from league meetings for the rest of the year due to entertaining conversations with Tom Brady and Saints coach Sean Payton while they were under contract with other organizations. The Dolphins also lost a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick.
Brian Flores set a new standard in the NFL, one where Black personnel can now honestly speak their truth even though the league will never truly do the right thing.