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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: Brian Flores claims 'false;' NFL to investigate

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: Brian Flores claims 'false;' NFL to investigate
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (pictured) said former coach Brian Flores' claims that he was offered $100,000 for losses during the 2019 season are "false" and "malicious." Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE

MIAMI, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a response to allegations in a class-action lawsuit made by Brian Flores, calling the former coach's claims "false." The NFL is expected to investigate some of Flores' claims.

Ross issued his statement late Wednesday through the Dolphins. Flores sued the NFL and its 32 teams Tuesday through a class-action lawsuit filed jointly by Wigdor LLP and Elefterakis, Elefterakis & Panek in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York.

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The lawsuit alleges discrimination against him and other Black coaches. The lawsuit also claims that Ross offered Flores $100,000 for each loss during the 2019 season, an alleged incentive to improve the team's position in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The NFL, Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos -- who also are named in the lawsuit -- denied the claims in initial statements.

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Sources told NFL Network, ESPN and the Washington Post on Wednesday that the NFL will investigate Flores' claims that he was offered money for losses.

"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 his statement late Wednesday.

"I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.

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"We understand there are media 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."

Flores was fired in January after he led the Dolphins to a 24-25 regular-season record over a three-year tenure with the AFC East franchise. He appeared on several TV networks Wednesday to explain why he decided to sue the NFL and its teams.

"That [Ross claim] was a conversation about not doing as much as we needed to do to win football games," Flores told ESPN's Get Up.

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Ross (allegedly) said: "'Take a flight, go on vacation. I'll give you $100,000 per loss.' Those [were] his exact words," Flores said.

Flores told CBS, ESPN and CNN on Wednesday that he understood the lawsuit might make it more difficult for him to receive another NFL coaching job, but he still wants to hold that role in the future. He said he is still a candidate to coach the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints.

"I absolutely want to coach in this league, but I also know I'm not the only one with a story," Flores told CBS Mornings. "People have come before me and there are others with similar stories. It's hard to speak out.

"You are making some sacrifices. But this is bigger than football and bigger than coaching."

Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson told ESPN on Wednesday that his former team also had a "four-year plan" that incentivized losing while he was with the franchise. Jackson claimed that bonus money was available if certain benchmarks were met. The Browns called Jackson's claims "completely fabricated."

Jackson posted a 3-36-1 record in three seasons with the Browns. Kimberly Diemert, the executive director of the Hue Jackson Foundation, tweeted Wednesday that she has records that the Browns paid Jackson and team executives to tank -- or lose games on purpose -- during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

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Jackson responded to that tweet and said he could "back up" his claims.

"Any accusation that any member of our organization was incentivized to deliberately lose games is categorically false," the Browns said Wednesday in a statement.

Flores' lawyers told multiple TV networks on Wednesday that they have additional evidence, including witness accounts, to back up claims he made in the 58-page lawsuit filing.

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