The NFL is still reeling from the class-action lawsuit filed by ex-Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Among the allegations the NFL is investigating is team owner Stephen Ross offering Flores money to lose games on purpose in order to improve the team’s draft position. If true, that is a threat to the credibility of the game, and commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear there would be serious punishment, even possibly losing the team.
“I do believe that clubs do have the authority to remove an owner from the league.”
Goodell was asked if the owners could force another owner out. "I do believe that the clubs do have the authority to remove an owner from the league."
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) February 9, 2022
During his Super Bowl news conference last week Goodell addressed the integrity of the game and said the league would be investigating Flores’ claim that Ross offered him $100,000 for each loss during the 2019 NFL season.
“They are very serious matters to us on all levels and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them,” Goodell said. “Integrity of the game is, obviously, an important element, just as making sure we have the right culture in our organizations across the league and at clubs. But we are going to look into that and we will make sure that if there were violations, that they won’t be tolerated. I couldn’t speculate on what they’ll be because we’ll have to find out what the facts are, what’s the outcome? And when we know what those facts are and the impact it has on our game, we’ll deal with it very seriously, just as we will if there’s any discrimination in the league. They will be dealt with very seriously.”
If it is discovered that Ross offered Flores money to lose games on purpose the other 31 owners could vote a fellow owner out based on league rules, which would require a three-fourths vote.
This investigation is just underway, so there’s a long way to go before we get there. Not to mention Ross has very good relationships with many of his fellow owners and they may not want to go that far in terms of punishment.
The NFL just had its marquee event this past Sunday with the Super Bowl and now the league’s collective attention turns to the Flores lawsuit and the overarching diversity issues among coaches and general managers.
A fairly large amount of people like football. https://t.co/qw5M2U7mUk
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 15, 2022
What does the league’s “investigation process” entail? Can they subpoena records and digital correspondence? The NFL is not a law enforcement entity. (But that doesn’t mean law enforcement could not get involved. The allegations against Ross could be a violation of the federal Sports Bribery Act.) In order to investigate thoroughly the league would likely need full cooperation from all relevant parties.
Ross has denied any impropriety.
“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 in a statement at the time of the allegations. “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 reports 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.”
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