Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Wednesday night that he “took great exception” to Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit that claimed, in part, that the owner offered the former coach money to lose games in 2019 in order to improve the team’s draft position.
As part of the 58-page lawsuit, which was filed in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Flores alleges that Ross offered him $100,000 per game during his first season coaching the Dolphins in 2019, ESPN reported. The offer was an attempt to “tank” Miami’s season in order to help the team get a better draft pick, the news outlet reported.
Flores also claimed that Ross pressured him to recruit a quarterback -- believed to be Tom Brady -- after the 2019 season, the Miami Herald reported. This was before teams were allowed to make contact with free agents, and Flores said he refused.
The lawsuit also named the NFL, the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants, alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices, according to ESPN.
“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, 81, said in his statement. “I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known.
“His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.”
Flores was fired on Jan. 10 after three seasons as Miami’s coach, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Flores went 24-25 but had back-to-back winning seasons, going 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021. Miami failed to reach the playoffs in all three seasons.
Flores, during an appearance on CBS on Wednesday, said Ross suggested that he lose games.
“I didn’t grow up with a lot and this game changed my life. So to attack the integrity of the game, that’s what I felt was happening in that instance, and I wouldn’t stand for it,” Flores said. “I think it hurt my standing within the organization and ultimately was the reason I was let go.”
In the lawsuit, Flores also alleged that the New York Giants had already made a decision to hire Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for their head coaching vacancy, the newspaper reported. Flores said he learned about the decision from his former head coach at New England, Bill Belichick, who mistakenly texted him congratulations.
“Sorry -- I (expletive) this up. I double-checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll,” Belichick said, according to the complaint. “I’m sorry about that.”
The text implies that the Giants were only interviewing Flores, who is Black, to satisfy the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to consider minority candidates for top coaching positions. The message could carry some weight during the trial and the Patriots coach may have to testify.
“Bill Belichick has no options to avoid being deposed in this case,” Miami employment lawyer Matthew Sarelson told the Herald. “The opening line in the complaint is a text from Bill Belichick to Brian Flores.”
“It was humiliating, to be quite honest. There was disbelief, there was anger,” Flores told CNN. “There was a wave of emotions for a lot of reasons.”
The NFL’s original statement on the complaint stated that Flores’ claims about racism were “without merit.” However, ESPN, quoting an anonymous source, said the league will investigate the allegations that Ross offered Flores money to lose games.
Ross has owned a controlling interest in the Dolphins since January 2009, the Herald reported.
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