NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered remarks on the controversy the NFL has been going through at an annual Super Bowl news conference on Wednesday. The NFL commissioner was grilled on two hot topics that have put the league under heavy scrutiny: racism and discrimination in hiring as he sat under a baking sun during an unseasonable week of weather in Southern California.
There were other issues that don't shine a positive light on pro football, including threats to the integrity of the sport, and misconduct by players and team executives. A week after former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed a lawsuit alleging both racism in the league and being offered money by team owner Stephen Ross to tank games, Goodell vowed action on several fronts.
As ESPN reported, Goodell said "We believe in diversity," during the news conference outside of SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, the site of Super Bowl 2022. He said, "I think we have to continue to look and find and step back and say, 'We're not doing a good enough job here.' We need to find better solutions and better outcomes. Let's find more effective policies. Let's make sure everyone understands. Let's make sure that we're looking at diversity and incentivizing that for everybody in our building."
The commissioner said, "We're not having the success we want with head coaches. How do we evolve that rule, or do we have to have a new rule? Do we need to find some other way of being able to achieve that outcome? I think we're not going to rest until we find that until we get those outcomes that are mandatory for us to move forward and have an inclusive league."
The NFL commissioner appeared to have more questions than answers on Wednesday as the league is embroiled in multiple allegations including racism and discrimination among hiring practices for head coaches, but also within at least one lawsuit filed and other comments on social media alleging that team owners have offered payments to coaches to throw games.
A lawsuit filed last week alleges the National Football League followed racist hiring practices and has shed light on allegations from multiple coaches that claim NFL team owners have offered incentives, or bonuses, to coaches to lose games.
Two teams and two coaches sit at the center of the latest controversial claims, with both team owners denying the allegations.
Brian Flores, the former coach for the Miami Dolphins who was fired last month by the team, said in a lawsuit that he was offered $100,000 by owner Stephen Ross in 2019 for each loss he was able to complete, Reuters reported. Flores claimed in the recent filing that the offer was meant to help the Dolphins get a better draft pick in 2020.
Hue Jackson, the former coach for the Cleveland Browns, who was fired eight games into the 2018 season and lost all 16 games in 2017, said he was offered incentives to lose while he was the coach for the Browns, the Associated Press reported. According to Reuters, the NFL draft of college players gives the highest pick to teams with the worst records. When Jackson was a coach for the Browns, the team lost 36 of 40 games.
Legal experts say that if the allegations are determined to be true, possible class action lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars could be filed, or even criminal liability could be possible, as experts told Reuters.
While the allegations contain claims that the two teams wanted to improve chances that their teams could be awarded opportunities to pick top prospects in the NFL draft, they also come at a time of huge growth in the legal sports gambling industry.
Ross refutes the claims calling the allegations "false, malicious and defamatory" and said he welcomes an investigation, according to Reuters.
As the Associated Press reported, the Cleveland Browns deny the claims by Jackson saying he "completely fabricated" the accusations. Jackson, who offered support for Flores on Twitter said that he received bonus payments from Browns' owner Jimmy Haslam.
Haslam denied paying former coach Hue Jackson for losing games and said his one-time employee is only good at “pointing fingers” and needs to accept some blame for his dreadful NFL record. In an exclusive interview with the Knoxville News, Haslam called Jackson’s claims “an absolute falsehood” and said the coach needs to be more accountable for his 3-36-1 record with the Browns.
Jackson has said that he didn’t understand what Cleveland was trying to do during his failed tenure.
As the Guardian reported, Flores' claims his refusal to comply with an agreement to accept money to throw games was the beginning of his end with the Miami Dolphins.