The NFL is investigating the Miami Dolphins after former coach Brian Flores alleged in a recent lawsuit that team owner Stephen Ross offered him money to lose games.
Sources informed of the league's investigation say the probe has only just begun, and investigators plan to speak with all relevant parties -- including Flores -- as soon as possible. It's clear the league takes the possibility of tanking extremely seriously -- seeing it as a threat to the integrity of the game -- with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying last Wednesday during his pre-Super Bowl LVI news conference that "if there were violations, they won't be tolerated."
Case in point: If the league investigation finds Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each loss during the 2019 NFL season, as Flores alleges, the discipline could be severe, up to and including Ross losing the team by a vote of fellow owners, per sources. Goodell addressed the concept of an owner being voted out last Wednesday, noting that "I do believe that clubs do have the authority to remove an owner from the league."
A league source confirmed that owners could, in fact, vote a fellow owner out under the most dire circumstances based on league rules, which would require a three-fourths vote.
Ross has adamantly denied that he offered Flores money per loss in an effort to obtain the No. 1 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, which the Cincinnati Bengals eventually used to select quarterback Joe Burrow. Flores has said he declined Ross' alleged offer. The Dolphins fired Flores on Jan. 10, following three seasons in Miami.
"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 a statement at the time of the allegations. "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."
Last Wednesday, Goodell wouldn't speculate on possible penalties, but he did make clear the allegations are as serious as they get.
"I couldn't speculate on what they'll be because we'll have to find out what the facts are, what's the outcome?" Goodell said Feb. 9. "And when we know what those facts are and the impact it has on our game, we'll deal with it very seriously, just as we will if there's any discrimination in the league. They will be dealt with very seriously."