With Super Bowl LVI now in the rearview, the NFL has nothing to distract from the glaring allegations against Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — levied by former head coach Brian Flores in a lawsuit that claims Ross offered as much as $100,000 for every loss the team landed in 2019. The alleged goal was to intentionally tank for a better draft spot, something that strikes at the very heart of the league’s integrity, and after initially issuing a statement stating Flores’ allegations were “without merit,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has since done an abrupt and definitive about-face.
The league has not only launched an investigation into Flores’ allegations of Rooney Rule violations by the New York Giants in their hiring process that ended with Brian Daboll being named head coach, but also into claims Ross was attempting to pay for losses. It’s a damning allegation that, if proven true, could result in extreme discipline, up to and including Ross being forced out of the NFL by a vote of other owners — per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
“I do believe that clubs do have the authority to remove an owner from the league,” Goodell said on Wednesday.
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It would require a three-fourths vote among ownership, but given the accusations, it is entirely possible. That is, of course, if the NFL can prove an offer to Flores occurred, which would also lead to sanctions by the league itself against the organization and not simply against Ross. That could come in the form of a massive fine and/or lost future draft picks, and anything else Goodell feels is justified, although the commissioner won’t speculate on what the punishment(s) would be, other than to intimate they’d match the extreme severity of the possible violation.
Ross adamantly denies the allegations.
“I am a man or honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding,” he said, via the Miami Herald. “I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory. We understand there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully.
“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.”
It wouldn’t be the first time in recent history an NFL owner has been forced out, with former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson having been forced to sell five years ago in light of racial slurs and sexual harassment allegations — the latter mirroring what Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is currently attempting to defend himself against both to the U.S. Congress and now the NFL. The investigation into Ross is still in its infancy, but the league appears hell-bent on getting to the truth of the matter, considering the possible ramifications that extend into the realm of sports betting.