Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is currently suing the NFL, alleging discrimination toward Black coaches. But while the NFL is fighting that lawsuit, today the NFL commended Flores for his integrity.
That came in the NFL’s finding on its investigation of the Dolphins over Flores’ allegation that owner Stephen Ross wanted him to lose games intentionally to get higher draft picks. Although the league found that Ross did not violate tanking rules, it nonetheless said Ross made comments that could have been interpreted that way, and Flores coached to win even as his boss suggested that he shouldn’t.
“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,” Goodell said.
Although there was talk during the 2019 season that the Dolphins were tanking, the NFL found that was not the case. The Dolphins started the 2019 season 0-7 but won five of their last nine games to finish 5-11, and the NFL found that the Dolphins were still playing hard late in the season, to the detriment of their draft position.
“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.”
As for the explosive allegation that Ross offered Flores $100,000 bonuses to lose games, the NFL doesn’t deny that those words were ever spoken, but the league does say Ross never made a genuine offer of paying Flores extra to lose.
“However phrased, such a comment was not intended or taken to be a serious offer,” the NFL said.
While the Dolphins have been docked a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick, and Ross has been suspended until October and barred from league meetings for the rest of the year, all of that comes as a result of tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton. As to the tanking, the NFL says that didn’t happen. Largely because of Flores’ integrity.