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NFL releases results of Hue Jackson Cleveland Browns tanking claims

Vincent Frank

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson alleged back in February that owner Jimmy Haslam paid him cash to tank games during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when the team went a combined 1-31.

Said allegations came after former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action suit against the NFL and its teams claiming racism within the hiring process of head coaches and front office personnel. In the class-action suit, Flores alleges that Fins owner Stephen Ross incentivized losing games during his tenure in South Beach.

More than two months after Hue Jackson made his claims, the NFL has released the results of an independent investigation into the Browns’ tanking allegations. Per the league, said claims could not be substantiated.

“​Following a 60-day independent review into comments made by former Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson that the Browns paid or otherwise provided incentives to lose games during the 2016-17 seasons, former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White and a team of lawyers from the Debevoise firm determined that none of the allegations could be substantiated.

The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the Browns’ Four-Year Plan or the club’s ownership or football personnel sought to lose or incentivized losses and made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favorable draft position.

The comprehensive review included the full cooperation of the Browns and interviews with Jimmy Haslam and current and former members of the organization. While Coach Jackson initially agreed to meet with the investigators, he ultimately did not do so.”

NFL statement on investigation of Hue Jackson tanking claims, obtained by Sportsnaut

The league also noted that the investigation did not include the team speaking directly to Jackson. This is a rather interesting development when it comes to the findings. Either Jackson refused to speak with the investigative team or they opted against interviewing him.

As for the Browns, they also released a statement after the NFL’s findings.

“We appreciate the independent investigation led by May Jo White and the Debevoise team which brings closure to these allegations that Hue Jackson publicly recanted shortly after they were made and the we’ve known all along are categorically false.

As we’ve previously stated, we welcomed this investigation because the integrity of our game is something that should not be taken lightly and an independent review was crucial to bringing a conclusion to this matter.”

Cleveland Browns statement on Hue Jackson investigation results

Immediately after Jackson made his claims on social media, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam absolutely blasted the former head coach — saying that “Hue Jackson has never ever accepted any responsibility for our record during that time.”

Related: Stephen Ross in hot water after tanking allegations

Results of Hue Jackson tanking investigation on Brian Flores’ class-action suit

hue jackson tanking investigation
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was noted back in February that the NFL had hired former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to defend it in the class-action case. That’s a clear indication commissioner Roger Goodell and Co. plan on fighting it.

More recently, a report broke that the NFL wants to take the Flores’ lawsuit into arbitration. This means that any type of transparency when it comes to the class-action suit and claims of the Dolphins tanking would be lacking.

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For his part, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is under fire. If an investigation into Flores’ claims proves to be true, there’s a darn good chance that the league’s other owners will vote to force him to sell.

Monday’s news regarding Hue Jackson and the NFL’s findings of his tanking claims does nothing to really change this.