The NFL finds itself in considerable hot water during the bye week before the Super Bowl. Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has filed a lawsuit against the league and all 32 teams accusing them of discrimination in their hiring processes. It is a class action suit and leaves the door open for other coaches to join.
There is a lot to digest, but one of the many serious issues raised revolves around the idea of teams tanking for draft positioning. Flores’ complaint states that during the 2019 season, the head coach’s first with the Dolphins, club owner Stephen Ross “told Mr. Flores that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss, and the team’s General Manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that ‘Steve’ was ‘mad’ that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was ‘compromising [the team’s] draft position.’”
Sports leagues have pushed back on the notion that teams tank for draft position, but this is the first time we’ve heard this kind of specific accusation encouraging tanking. This is merely an allegation for the time-being. Flores’ lawsuit does include a Bill Belichick text that would serve as evidence for Flores’ broader case, but there is not additional evidence yet presented about the $100,000 accusation.
This is concerning for a league that claims a commitment to the integrity of the game. That a team might have tried to tank would not be a shocking revelation, but that an owner might have financially incentivized losing is a serious concern. The league claims the accusations are without merit, so this is something that will need to be sussed out through discovery and the potential trial process.