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The NFL is Rigged…Sometimes, and It’s Not Hard to See

Art by Matt Moberg @mattmoberg (Instagram)

I never thought I would have to admit this, and I actually feel like an idiot for not seeing it a long time ago, but at times, the NFL is rigged. There are some cases where I thought it was clear that teams were tanking for draft position. The clearest example was when the then Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson took out QB Jalen Hurts for QB Nate Sudfeld in their last game of the season against Washington. That same year, Jalen Hurts had taken on the number one ranked defense in the league, the New Orleans Saints, and tore them to shreds. He had his team in a close contest with Washington, and then he was pulled out of the game. Doug Pederson said that he was coaching to win the game in the post-game press conference, but that was obviously not the case, and the world could see it. So, in those cases, yes, I was willing to admit that the game was rigged, and a team was tanking. However, I still assumed that for the most part the integrity of the game was intact. Teams tank, that’s not a new concept, right? Teams tank when they aren’t competitive. I guess I just didn’t know the level to which this went or how far team owners would go to loss games.

Hue Jackson insinuated recently through a series of tweets that he was paid to lose games by the Browns. Since that time, besides the amazing news from Grambling State and their incredible recruiting class, Hue Jackson has been fighting for his life on Twitter as Browns fans question his coaching ability and his integrity.

Hue Jackson stated that he stands with Brian Flores and that he can back up everything he is saying about the Browns organization. Coach Hue has since retracted that “insinuation”. The Browns have also publicly denied Hue’s claims, but the Miami Dolphins may have to fight Flores’ claims in a court of law.

Brian Flores was hired in 2019 after helping to lead the New England Patriots defense to a Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams. His defense shut down the innovative offense led by Rams' Head Coach, Sean McVay. The Rams’ offense, the second leading scoring team that year, was only able to muster 3 points in the contest, while the New England Patriots led by Tom Brady only scored 13 points. Essentially, Flores’ defense won Tom Brady his 6th NFL title. After that incredible feat, Flores took the head coaching job in Miami looking to lead the Dolphins back to prominence. His roster wasn’t incredibly talented, and his team was led by an NFL reclamation project QB Josh Rosen and NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. They did have some talent on the roster in Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB Xavien Howard, LT Laremy Tunsil, and WR Kenny Stills. Despite the lack of elite talent on the roster, Flores believed that with his scheme, change in culture, and his coaching style, he could help the Dolphins return to prominence.

Brian Flores enjoying time with his family.

Flores alleges at this time, during his first full season coaching the Miami Dolphins that his owner Stephen Ross came to him and offered to pay him $100,000 for every loss that season. This would mean that Flores would have to dash his dreams of being a great coach in the NFL, at least for a season, and actively make decisions that would result in losing games. The Dolphins were obviously in “lose now" mode in 2019 as they traded away some of the young talent on their roster for draft capitol. Young talent like Tunsil and Kenny Stills were traded to the Texans. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was traded to the Steelers. The Dolphins were in no position to win, and games like the 59-10 loss to the Ravens or the 43-0 loss to the Patriots that year further illuminated that point. However, later that same year, Flores and his Dolphins showed promise. When draft position was at a premium, Flores led his team to victories over the Bengals and the Patriots.

At the time his former head coach and friend, Bill Belichick, was looking to clinch a first-round bye. It would have made the perfect “two for one” deal. Make $100,000 and help a friend and mentor get a first-round bye, but Flores and his Dolphins fought and earned a victory over a team that beat them by 43 points in their first meeting. Some thought the loss signified Brady’s downfall; however, we have since been reminded that we were very wrong. This means that Flores' underdog defense shut down a very capable Tom Brady in a game that Brady and Belichick needed to win. With the wins, Flores cost his teams at least a draft spot or two as the teams picking at No. 2 and 3 that year both went 3-13 and 3-12-1, respectively. Flores wasn’t tanking, and that was evident.

Over the course of the next two season, Flores led the team to more wins in two seasons then the franchise had seen since the 2002 and the 2003 seasons. Then surprisingly, Flores was fired and painted as a difficult employee to work with by Dolphins' management. In 2019, Flores upheld the integrity of the league and the game by refusing to loss game for draft position. In the case of Hue Jackson, he too may have been offered money to make decisions that would result in losing games. This is simple and it’s not hard to see, If NFL owners are paying coaches to LOSE games or make decisions that would result in losing games, then the games are compromised.

I have spent many of my days arguing with people that the game is not rigged. Fighting against those that say that the NFL and the WWE, are the exact same. I’ve had too much trust in the hard work and dedication of the athletes to think that they would ever compromise the game that they love. Why would you wake up daily at 4am or 5am and work your body into peak condition, then put that same body in harm's way weekly, to intentionally lose games. It seemed impossible. However, owners are different, and it seems to be at that level where the investigation of the NFL’s integrity should begin.


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