NFL investigating Browns for alleged tanking in 2016 and 2017, review expected to conclude soon, per report

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USA Today

The NFL is investigating the Cleveland Browns for alleged tanking that took place during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, per Sports Illustrated. Former SEC chair Mary Jo White is leading the investigation, which is, “expected to conclude soon,” an NFL spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to SI.

White is also in charge of investigating Brian Flores’ claims that he was offered $100,000 per loss from Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross during the 2019 season. Once Flores’ lawsuit became public, former Browns head coach Hue Jackson suggested that he was paid by Cleveland to tank. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam vehemently denied the claim, and Jackson later walked back his comments in a February interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“No, I was never offered money like Brian (Flores) had mentioned,” Jackson told Cooper. “I think this is a totally different situation but has some similarities.”

Jackson told Cooper there was a “plan” that benefitted certain people when players did not perform well — maintaining that the Browns wanted to lose, even if they weren’t paying the head coach per loss. Jackson said he has evidence to back up his claim.

A Browns spokesperson gave this statement on the investigation to SI:

“Even though Hue recanted his allegations a short time after they were made, it was important to us and to the integrity of the game to have an independent review of the allegations. We welcomed an investigation and we are confident the results will show, as we’ve previously stated, that these allegations are categorically false. We have fully cooperated with Mary Jo White and look forward to the findings.”

Jackson went 3-36-1 during his time with the Browns, including a 1-31 mark from 2016 to 2017. He was fired in the middle of the 2018 season after going 2-5-1. When SI reached out to Jackson for comment, he offered this:

“Two years ago I tried to do this the right way, through the bylaws and constitution of the National Football League, to ask them to investigate the Cleveland Browns for all the allegations that I’ve made. So why open an investigation now?”

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