Hue Jackson says he wasn’t paid to lose NFL games with the Browns

His situation had similarities to that of Brian Flores
Originally Published: 05 FEB 22 02:34 ET

(CNN) — Hue Jackson, the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns, said Friday that he was not paid to lose games when he led the NFL team.

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

Flores is the former Miami Dolphins head coach who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and three teams that alleged, in part, that the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wanted to pay him $100,000 for intentionally losing games.

Ross, in a statement Wednesday, described the allegations as “false, malicious and defamatory.”

Jackson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday night that there was a “plan” that benefited certain people when players didn’t perform as well.

“When you talk about incentivizing a four-year plan that led to the team not being able to play as well, that people benefited off of that — that’s different. But at the same time, it has some of the same similarities to it,” Jackson said, referring to Flores’ situation.

Jackson’s remarks come after he said in a tweet Tuesday that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was “happy while we kept losing.”

In response to a tweet saying Haslam wasn’t offering Jackson $100,000 for every loss, Jackson said, “Trust me it was a good number!” implying he was paid to lose.

Haslam described the allegation as “an absolute falsehood” in a statement to the Knoxville News Sentinel on Thursday.

“Hue Jackson has never ever accepted any responsibility for our record during that time period,” Haslam told the local outlet. “He’s been masterful at pointing fingers but has never accepted any blame.”

Jackson told CNN on Friday that he “absolutely” had evidence to back his claims that the ownership and executive team intended to lose games. He pointed out that he brought the issue to Haslam’s attention in 2016.

“I was assured by Jimmy (Haslam) that things would change, and they would get things straight,” Jackson said.

“I told Jimmy that what he was doing was very destructive, to not do this because it’s going to hurt my career and every other coach that worked with me and every player on the team. And I told him that it would hurt every Black coach that would follow me. And I have the documents to prove this.”

When pressed by Cooper on why he hasn’t disclosed that evidence yet, Jackson responded, “Those things will come to light at the right time.”

On Wednesday, a Browns spokesperson said Jackson was not offered monetary rewards for losing games to achieve a higher pick in the NFL draft.

“The recent comments by Hue Jackson and his representatives relating to his tenure as our head coach are completely fabricated,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Any accusation that any member of our organization was incentivized to deliberately lose games is categorically false.”

Jackson went 3-36-1 during his tenure in Cleveland, including going 1-15 in his first season and 0-16 in his second. Because of their league-worst record, the Browns had the first pick in the draft in back-to-back years.

The Browns fired Jackson during the 2018 season. He was hired in December 2021 as the head coach at Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Flores’ lawsuit names 3 NFL teams

Flores filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Dolphins.

The 40-year-old, who is Black, said in his lawsuit that the Giants interviewed him for their vacant head coaching job under disingenuous circumstances, as Flores had found out three days before his interview that the Giants had already decided to hire Brian Daboll.

Flores says he learned this after receiving a congratulatory text message from Belichick, whom Flores used to work for, that was sent in error.

Flores alleges in his lawsuit that his interview with the Giants was a ruse so the team could “demonstrate falsely to League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003 in an effort to increase diversity among the NFL’s head coaching, general manager and executive ranks. The rule requires every team to interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions, according to the NFL’s Football Operations website.

The Giants called Flores’ claims about the head coach candidacy “disturbing and simply false” in a Thursday statement.

Flores’ lawsuit claims that in 2019, he was subjected to another “sham interview,” this one with the Broncos.

Flores says “Broncos’ then-General Manager John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others showed up an hour late to the interview” and adds that the Broncos’ delegation “looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had drinking heavily the night before.”

Denver described the allegations as “blatantly false.” Elway released his own statement Thursday, calling the claims “false and defamatory.”

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