In February, former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson alleged that team owner Jimmy Haslam promised incentives to lose games in 2016 and 2017.
On Monday, the NFL announced that after a 60 day investigation led by Mary Jo White, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, there was no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of the Browns.
More on the NFL’s determination that, unlike Hue Jackson’s claims, the Browns did not tank games: pic.twitter.com/jRIFRgzDfo
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2022
The league released a statement that read, in part, “The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the Browns’ Four-Year Plan or the club’s ownership or football personnel sought to lose or incentivized losses and made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favorable draft position.”
The Browns, including Haslam, cooperated with the investigation while Jackson did not.
Although the independent panel was not able to speak with the former coach, they did have access to his public statements and former testimony.
“Although unable to speak directly to Coach Jackson, the Debevoise team (legal firm handling the case) had access to his public statements and to his filings and testimony in a prior arbitration proceeding. The club also produced thousands of pages of documents, including emails, texts, internal memos and presentation decks as well as other material relating to club operations and the filings and testimony in the arbitration proceeding between the club and Coach Jackson.”
Impetus for Jackson’s Claim
Jackson’s allegations came on the heels of former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ claim that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross paid Flores to tank games in 2019.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross could lose ownership of the team by owner vote should reports of tanking prove true, per @RapSheet.
The NFL's probe has reportedly begun, and former head coach Brian Flores, who made the allegations, will be interviewed as part of it. pic.twitter.com/fRJHitmLdU
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) February 14, 2022
After hearing about Jackson’s own claim against him, Haslam strongly denied the allegations and the team released a statement..
“The recent comments by Hue Jackson and his representatives relating to his tenure as our head coach are completely fabricated. Any accusation that any member of our organization was incentivized to deliberately lose games is categorically false,” the Browns said in February.
Jackson specified that he wasn’t paid per loss like Flores, but that he received $750,000 in bonus money from Haslam.
According to Jackson, the money was part of a four-year plan to assemble a young roster, collect draft picks, and focus on winning in year three.
“No, I was never offered money like Brian [Flores] had mentioned,” Jackson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in February. “I think this is a totally different situation but has some similarities.”
In two-and-a-half seasons as Cleveland’s coach, Jackson was 3-36-1 (1-15 in 2016, 0-16 in 2017 and 2-5-1 in 2018) before Haslam fired him midway through the 2018 season.
Hue Jackson claims the Browns lied to him on the team's rebuild and is currently writing a book on his time with the team.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 29, 2021
Before coming to the Browns, Jackson was head coach of the Oakland Raiders for one season in 2011.
He was fired after producing an 8-8 record.
Since leaving Cleveland, Jackson has lashed out at the Browns for various offenses related to team building, drafting, and personnel while he was coach.