Brian Flores Accuses Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross of Attempting to Bribe Him to Fix Games, a Federal Crime if True

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

In an explosive lawsuit filed Tuesday, fired Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores accused Dolphins owner Steve Ross of offering to bribe him to fix games. In his legal complaint, Flores claims Ross offered him $100,000 per loss to intentionally fix Dolphins games so the team would tank and be able to secure a first overall draft pick. There have been rumors that NFL teams in the past have wanted to lose to secure the coveted first overall pick, but this marks the first time in recent history that a high profile coach has claimed an owner offered to bribe him to fix a game. If true, bribery in sporting contests is a federal crime that could carry a hefty fine and up to five years in prison. The accusations alone could prompt a federal investigation. The fact that sports betting has blown up on the national scene and not only are more people staking more money on games lawfully but the NFL has partnerships with betting organizations and is in some respects cut into the profits, makes the bribery allegations even more serious. It’s likely due to the affect such acts could have on the general population, that the accusation attracts the attention of federal investigators, or even possible that Flores approaches them himself if he has evidence in his possession.

It is still unclear if Flores has text messages or other evidence that could prove the offer from Ross, however, proving such an allegation would be critical to any charge or eventual conviction. An investigation, charge or conviction on such a finding would be grounds for removing Ross as an NFL owner and banning him from the league.

Immediately following all of the allegations in Flores’ suit, the NFL responded by saying the suit was without merit and it would defend against it. Notably the NFL did not mention an investigation into the game fixing allegations against Ross.

Flores also claims Ross pressured him to violate the league’s tampering rules and when he refused, Ross “set him up” by placing him on a yacht with a high-profile prospective quarterback to force the meeting. Flores says that when he refused he was labeled difficult to work with and stigmatized as an “angry black man.” One of the reasons for Flores’ firing was that he was viewed as not communicative or collaborative enough.

If indeed, the quarterback who allegedly appeared on the yacht were to cooperate with an NFL investigation, or other employees on the yacht could attest to the meeting, the Miami Dolphins and Ross could face steep penalties for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule, including loss of picks, suspensions and fines.

Flores also describes interviews by the Giants and Broncos, during which he feels he was misled and not considered fairly for the positions. He went public with texts from Bill Belichick, who mistakenly texted him congratulating him for getting the position when he meant to text Brian Daboll. Flores says he was put through a sham interview process with Giants brass despite them finding their coach in Daboll. Flores believes it was done to create the impression they were considering a black candidate despite having no true intention to hire him due to his race.

Flores is suing the NFL, Dolphins and all teams for racial discrimination in its hiring practices under civil rights statutes and anti-discrimination laws at both the state and federal level. One of his claims would require an administrative hearing by the equal employment opportunity commission. Flores is seeking class action status so that other individuals who feel they have been aggrieved can join him if they have the evidence to support their claims.

We did a full explanation of the larger meaning behind Flores’ suit, which is expressly an attack on the NFL’s model of primarily white owners and a 70 percent black workforce. Flores calls the NFL’s system “racially segregated” and similar to a “plantation” and has asked for injunctive relief from a court to force change on the League in the form of several measures that would make hiring and retention more transparent including the involvement of minorities in hiring decisions, objective criteria, explanations of hiring decisions, committees to source black owners and training programs to transition black players into management and coaching roles.

Flores also attacked the Rooney Rule which requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for certain roles, calling it a sham. In his complaint, Flores listed statistics and studies that he claims shows the Rule has failed to create opportunities for qualified minority coaches and lists several instances of high-profile coaches who have been fired after winning seasons or not given opportunities despite their qualifications. It is unclear if the numerous former coaches listed in his complaint such as Jim Caldwell, Eric Bieniemy, Steve Wilks and others will seek to join his class action suit but several outlets have reported that numerous coaches say they have the receipts to take the league to task.

Stay tuned to League of Justice for more breaking news and legal explainers on this watershed case.