The NFL said it failed to substantiate claims by former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson that the team deliberately provided incentives as part of a game-losing plan to improve their position in the draft for years to come.
Former US attorney Mary Jo White led the league’s investigation of the allegations and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including emails and internal memos, regarding the team’s four-year plan to revitalize the club, which coincided with Jackson’s two-year head coaching stint. 2016 and 2017.
“The investigation found no evidence that the Browns’ Four-Year Plan, or that the club’s property or football personnel attempted to lose or encouraged losses, and made no decision to deliberately weaken the team in order to secure a more favorable draft position,” the league said. In a statement.
The League said Jackson did not speak with White and other investigators as part of the review, but White’s team also reviewed submissions and testimony from a previous arbitration between Jackson and the Browns. White also interviewed current and former members of the team, as well as Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
Jackson did not make a call to comment on the league’s findings.
In early February, said Jackson He said the team received bonuses of up to $750,000 as part of its plan to lose games and improve the Browns’ standing in next year’s draft. Under Jackson’s leadership, The Browns won just one game in 2016 and none in 2017. He was fired after eight games in 2018, where the team’s record was 2-5-1.
Jackson made the allegations just days after Brian Flores, who was recently sacked as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. sued in federal court He claimed that other clubs gave him “fake interviews” for vacancies they knew would give white coaches. Flores’ lawsuit said the practice was part of league-wide discrimination against Black coaches in hiring practices.
In that file, Flores also claimed that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for every game he lost while he was the team’s head coach.
Ross denied the allegations.
On Monday, attorneys representing Flores and two other Black NFL coaches, Ray Horton and Steve Wilks, who were involved in the lawsuit, appeared in New York federal court for a pre-trial conference in front of lawyers defending the NFL, including a former US veteran, Loretta Lynch. outputs. attorney general.
Lynch and the NFL’s legal team argued that plaintiffs’ claims should be sent to arbitration behind closed doors and that they should file a lawsuit to force arbitration by June 21. Flores’ lawyers are fighting to have the case heard in open court.
Plaintiffs also sought limited exploration as to whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had biases that would have eliminated him as a potential referee. They cited Goodell’s employment status—that he had determined and paid the salary of the 32 teams that defended against Flores’ claims—as well as the league’s statement saying Flores’ claims were “unjustified” immediately after the league was sued.
Listening to the conference, the judge delayed a decision on whether this limited discovery could occur until the NFL presented the enforcement move. Plaintiffs will have until July 22 to respond to the league’s motion, but that timeline can be extended if they request the judge to allow limited exploration of Goodell’s role.
Flores’ lawyers told the judge they would be open to attending a reconciliation conference, but the NFL declined, saying it was confident the arbitration process would be impartial.