Earlier this year, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores made allegations that team owner Stephen Ross wanted to pay Flores $100,000 for every loss during the 2019 season.
The allegations were enough for the league to investigate Ross, who was suspended for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.
However, the directive to tank was never given to Flores or anyone else, according to their running backs coach.
“From the top down, [the goal was] to win football games and prepare and get ready to go — that’s how it’s always been,” Eric Studesville said Wednesday, via ESPN. “That’s how I think this game is right. That’s what we do, that’s what I owe the game, every time we get a chance to compete, we do our best. There was never anything other than that expressed to us or to me.”
The investigation did not find any evidence that the team tanked purposely. However, it was discovered that Ross did feel that losing games was best for the team’s future, and should take priority over winning.
But “that’s just not how we’re wired. None of that was ever shared,” Studesville added.
“The Dolphins did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season,” the NFL’s memo said. “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.”
The NFL also said that Ross’ advances to Flores were “not intended or taken to be a serious offer, nor was the subject pursued in any respect by Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.”
Flores’ lawsuit alleges the league has discriminated against him and other Black coaches for racial reasons, halting them from being hired as head coaches, general managers and other important positions throughout all teams in the league.
Upon the investigation, Ross was fined $1.5 million dollars and suspended for six games. The Dolphins also lost their first-round pick in 2023 and their third-round pick in 2024.