In a strongly worded statement issued shortly before midnight Wednesday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross denied allegations he offered former head coach Brian Flores a $100,000 bonus for every loss in the 2019 season.
“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' statement read. "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.”
Flores' allegations were included in the 58-page lawsuit he filed Tuesday against the NFL, the Dolphins, Giants, Broncos and John Doe Teams 1-29 alleging systemic racism in the league's hiring practices related to head coaches, coordinators and general managers.
Flores also alleged that Ross wanted him to recruit a pending free agent (Tom Brady) still under contract with another team, but that allegation pales when compared to the suggestion that Ross was trying to incentivize losing.
The allegation could have severe consequences for Ross, including possibly being forced to sell the team, if Flores can prove them. NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe reported Wednesday he had spoken to a witness who claimed to have heard Ross making that offer and Flores' attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said on CNN that his side had "corroborating evidence" to support Flores' claims.
If the allegation of Ross' offer to throw games is false, the Dolphins owner certainly would have grounds for a defamation of character lawsuit.
After Flores filed the lawsuit Tuesday, the Dolphins issued a statement, but it did not address the allegations of offering money for losses.
“We are aware of the lawsuit through the media reports that came out this afternoon," the statement read. "We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect. We will be withholding further comment on the lawsuit at this time."
FORMER DOLPHINS PLAYER'S STRONG REACTION
One of the many veterans purged by the Dolphins during that 2019 season was long-snapper John Denney, who had been with the team since 2005, and he was replaced by Taybor Pepper.
Now with the San Francisco 49ers, Pepper posted some very strong comments on Twitter regarding that 2019 season (his only one with the Dolphins) before he deleted the posts.
Pepper's tweets came in response to Wolfe's tweet about speaking to a witness who said he heard Ross offering Flores $100K for every loss in that 2019 season.
"Finding out that this was possibly happening while I was playing there makes me absolutely sick to my stomach," Pepper wrote. "2019 was the worst year of my entire life. I had NEVER thought about quitting football until that season in Miami. I have been filled w/ rage since I learned about this."
Pepper was released by the Dolphins before the 2020 season after they selected long-snapper Blake Ferguson in the sixth round of that 2020 draft.
Pepper explained his reason for deleting his tweets.