Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Wednesday night that he “took great exception” to Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit that claimed, in part, that the owner offered the former coach money to lose games in 2019 in order to improve the team’s draft position.
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As part of the 58-page lawsuit, which was filed in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Flores alleges that Ross offered him $100,000 per game during his first season coaching the Dolphins in 2019, ESPN reported. The offer was an attempt to “tank” Miami’s season in order to help the team get a better draft pick, the news outlet reported.
Flores also claimed that Ross pressured him to recruit a quarterback — believed to be Tom Brady — after the 2019 season, the Miami Herald reported. This was before teams were allowed to make contact with free agents, and Flores said he refused.
The lawsuit also named the NFL, the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants, alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices, according to ESPN.
“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, 81, said in his statement. “I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known.
“His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.”
Flores was fired on Jan. 10 after three seasons as Miami’s coach, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Flores went 24-25 but had back-to-back winning seasons, going 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021. Miami failed to reach the playoffs in all three seasons.
Flores, during an appearance on CBS on Wednesday, said Ross suggested that he lose games.
“I didn’t grow up with a lot and this game changed my life. So to attack the integrity of the game, that’s what I felt was happening in that instance, and I wouldn’t stand for it,” Flores said. “I think it hurt my standing within the organization and ultimately was the reason I was let go.”
In the lawsuit, Flores also alleged that the New York Giants had already made a decision to hire Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for their head coaching vacancy, the newspaper reported. Flores said he learned about the decision from his former head coach at New England, Bill Belichick, who mistakenly texted him congratulations.
>> Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores claims racial discrimination in class-action lawsuit
“Sorry — I (expletive) this up. I double-checked and misread the text. I think they are naming Brian Daboll,” Belichick said, according to the complaint. “I’m sorry about that.”
The text implies that the Giants were only interviewing Flores, who is Black, to satisfy the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to consider minority candidates for top coaching positions. The message could carry some weight during the trial and the Patriots coach may have to testify.
“Bill Belichick has no options to avoid being deposed in this case,” Miami employment lawyer Matthew Sarelson told the Herald. “The opening line in the complaint is a text from Bill Belichick to Brian Flores.”
“It was humiliating, to be quite honest. There was disbelief, there was anger,” Flores told CNN. “There was a wave of emotions for a lot of reasons.”
The NFL’s original statement on the complaint stated that Flores’ claims about racism were “without merit.” However, ESPN, quoting an anonymous source, said the league will investigate the allegations that Ross offered Flores money to lose games.
Ross has owned a controlling interest in the Dolphins since January 2009, the Herald reported.
Brian Flores Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins speaks to the press during a practice and media availability by the Miami Dolphins In Ware, England, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. The Dolphins play the Jaguars in a regular season NFL game on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspurs White Hart Lane stadium in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
This is a photo of Brian Flores of the New England Patriots NFL football team. This image reflects the New England Patriots active roster as of Thursday, June 20, 2013. (AP Photo)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores follows a play, during the second half at an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Head coach Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins) watches the National team practice for the NCAA college football Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on against the New York Jets during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, right, chats with Dolphins former head coach Jimmy Johnson before the start of an NFL football preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talks with the news media during NFL football training camp, Friday, July 26, 2019, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks up at the scoreboard, during the first half at an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores watches his team warm up before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, in Foxborough, Mass. The Dolphins have begun their search for a coach who’s ready to lose a lot this year. Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, the first candidate to interview for the Dolphins’ job, met with them Friday, Jan. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches the game from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa prepares to throw a pass as coach Brian Flores watches during an NFL football training camp Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
The new Miami Dolphin’s head coach Brian Flores gestures to his children, Maxwell, right and Miles, left, to sit down before he speaks during a news conference on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in Davie, Fla. Hours after his team won the Super Bowl, New England Patriots linebackers coach Flores has been hired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. They decided on Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
FILE – In this Jan. 19, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, center, speaks with linebackers coach Brian Flores, left, and defensive line coach Brendan Daly during an NFL football team practice, in Foxborough, Mass. Flores is now the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins hired Flores even though the Patriots’ Way hasn’t worked elsewhere. While Belichick owns a record six Super Bowl championship rings, his former New England assistants have combined for one playoff victory as head coaches. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Davie, Fla. Flores says the team’s new video addressing racial injustice was player-driven, had the team owner’s support and sought to send a message that “we can all do better.” (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
FILE -Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talks to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross during practice before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and three of its teams Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, left, shakes hands with Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn, right, after a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores embraces Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, at the end of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The new Miami Dolphin’s head coach Brian Flores, left, poses for a portrait with his family, wife, Jennifer, daughter Liliana, son Miles, center, and son Maxwell, left, before he speaks during a news conference on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in Davie, Fla. Hours after his team won the Super Bowl, New England Patriots linebackers coach Flores has been hired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
New England Patriots defensive assistant coach Brian Flores goes over a play during NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass. Monday, Aug, 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches as players run drills at the team’s NFL football training facility, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Brian Flores Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins walks amongst his players during a practice and media availability by the Miami Dolphins In Ware, England, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. The Dolphins play the Jaguars in a regular season NFL game on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspurs White Hart Lane stadium in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)