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Is Bribing NFL Coaches To Lose A Crime?

Back on February 1, 2022, former Miami Dolphins Head Coach, Brian Flores filed a class action lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL), New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, and Denver Broncos, in the Southern District of New York alleging racial discrimination in the hiring, and retention rate of Black Head Coaches in the NFL. The NFL has a rule in place that is meant to combat racial discrimination in the hiring of coaches in the NFL called the Rooney Rule. Despite this rule existing, racial discrimination in the hiring of Black Head Coaches in the NFL remains rampant. As of 2019, 58.9% of NFL players were black, but after the off-season hire of Lovie Smith by the Texans, only 2 of 32 NFL Head Coaches are black.

Brian Flores also alleges that while he was Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins, the owner of the team bribed him by offering $100,000 for every loss that Flores took as Head Coach to help improve the team’s draft stock for the upcoming season. The question this presents, is this act of soliciting an NFL Head Coach to intentionally lose games in exchange for money a crime?

Brian Flores’s lawyer says there is that they know there are other people who can confirm these allegations of bribery to tank. The Legal Information Institute, established by Cornell Law School defines Bribery as “corrupt solicitation, acceptance, or transfer of value in exchange for official action.” Furthermore, prosecutors have acted before against those in sports committing some fraud. A former NBA Referee, named Tm Donaghy was arrested for fixing NBA games while he was as Referee for the league.

Now, it is rather unlikely that this will lead to criminal charges levied against the Dolphins owner. What is more likely to happen is that the Dolphins Team Owner could lose his franchise if it is found to be true that he was attempting to bribe Brian Flores to lose games.

Bribes, fraud, and more in sports is nothing new when it comes to looking at scandals like the Black Sox (a nickname given to the Chicago White Sox as a result of the scandal) baseball game-fixing scandal of 1919, Pete Rose betting on baseball games while serving as Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and many more.

More importantly, racism is not dead. The NFL is an extremely diverse league, but when it comes to coaches reflecting the players in the league, the NFL falls noticeably short. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly addressed the NFL shortcomings with racial diversity in NFL coaches, but these words need to followed up with meaningful action if these words are to carry any weight, otherwise it will just be seen as an empty promise, especially considering the NFL shunned former NFL Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick because of his political beliefs.

Update: Brian Flores has been hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as Linebackers Coach and Defense Assistant.

Written by Forester Haynie Law Student Jordan Farber

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