NFL Finds No Evidence Supporting Former Coach’s Allegation He Was Told to Throw Games

NFL Finds No Evidence Supporting Former Coach’s Allegation He Was Told to Throw Games
(AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Today (May 2nd), the NFL released a statement declaring it had completed its investigation into former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson’s allegations against the organization. Specifically, Jackson accused the Browns of telling him to throw games to enhance the team’s position in the next year’s NFL draft. The statement reads:

​Following a 60-day independent review into comments made by former Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson that the Browns paid or otherwise provided incentives to lose games during the 2016-17 seasons, former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White and a team of lawyers from the Debevoise firm determined that none of the allegations could be substantiated.

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 comprehensive review included the full cooperation of the Browns and interviews with Jimmy Haslam and current and former members of the organization. While Coach Jackson initially agreed to meet with the investigators, he ultimately did not do so.

Although unable to speak directly to Coach Jackson, the Debevoise team 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.

Jackson made his charge amid the fallout from former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL alleging racism, personified by exclusionary hiring practices designed to severely limit — if not eliminate altogether — opportunities for black head coaches in the league. The NFL has denied the charges.

Now, we at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState are of the firm opinion that if there’s a sports franchise in no need to lose games deliberately, it’s the Browns. We’re talking about the franchise that this year alone backed up the draft pick truck to Houston Texans headquarters in exchange for Deshaun Watson and the accompanying 22 sexual misconduct civil suits against him without any assurance the league won’t go Trevor Bauer on him. Meanwhile, Cleveland can’t give away its now-former starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, thus making it quite likely he’ll still be on the roster come training camp time. That’ll ensure team unity.

There’s another possibility here. Maybe, just maybe, Hue Jackson really sucked at his job? Incompetence is no respecter of skin pigmentation. Trying to cover your incompetence by crying racism should be embarrassing. In fact, it should be almost as embarrassing as making allegations, then refusing to meet with the people investigating said allegations, and … oh, wait ….

The last thing the NFL wants to do is come off as a good ol’ boys club, even though it is one. It knows the majority of its players are black. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t hope to find the next Tony Dungy to lead its on-field effort. NFL owners and decision-makers can be dumb, but they’re not stupid. What is stupid is playing the race card when doing so makes you the joker. Hue Jackson has done no favor to anyone pursuing genuine racial equality.

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