More than 24 hours after former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit over racial inequalities for Black coaches in the NFL was filed, news broke on Wednesday night that the NFL will investigate Flores’ damning claim against Dolphins owner Steve Ross.
And Ross then responded to both Flores’ allegations and the pending investigation with a statement of his own near midnight Wednesday night.
An investigation will begin into Ross’ actions of allegedly offering Flores $100,000 per loss in the 2019 season in order to tank for a higher draft, according to ESPN.
The report also said that other potential rules violations will be investigated.
News of an investigation by the league came shortly after an NFL Network report said there were witnesses that could back up Flores’ allegation.
Late Wednesday night, Ross released his statement in which he called Flores’ claims malicious and defamatory.
“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 said in the statement. “I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known.
“His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.”
Ross also reacted to the reports of the investigation by the league. He is apparently unaware of the investigation and has only read reports.
“We understand there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully,” Ross said. “I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims.”
Flores spent Wednesday morning doing rounds of interviews from CBS to CNN and ESPN, explaining his perspective on the lawsuit and his allegations.
Of the Ross claim Flores said: “To attack the integrity of the game, that’s what I felt was happening in that instance, and I wouldn’t stand for it. I think it hurt my standing within the organization and, ultimately, was the reason why I was let go.”
Flores told CNN later Wednesday morning that Ross explicitly told him about the financial offering to lose that season. Flores’ attorneys said they have “corroborating evidence” and witnesses on that front.
“That’s not something you make up,” Flores said.
He added later on ESPN that Ross insisted Flores should take a flight or go on a vacation when his hard work in 2019 ultimately led to five wins in the team’s final nine games.
Flores also alleged that Ross tried to set up a meeting between him and a quarterback during a period of time where it would’ve been considered tampering, an NFL rules violation. He claims that, after refusing the meeting with who reports say was Tom Brady, he was treated with disdain and as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.
Flores was fired on Jan. 10 after three seasons as Miami’s coach in which he went 24-25. The Dolphins parted ways with him despite back-to-back winning seasons of 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021.
In the 58-page complaint, Flores alleged that there is widespread racial discrimination against Black coaches in the hiring process for prominent roles and in their retention when they do land head coaching jobs.
Flores also alleged that the New York Giants already had made the decision to hire Brian Daboll for their head coaching vacancy, which Flores learned due to a mistaken congratulatory text from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to the wrong Brian that also formerly was an assistant under him.
The NFL’s original statement on the complaint on Tuesday never indicated any investigations on the complaints and even said claims were “without merit.”
The full statement read: “The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organizations. Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit.”