Related Cos.’ Stephen Ross Allegedly Offered Ex-Dolphins Head Coach $100K Per Loss
Related Cos. Chairman and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered to pay his then-head coach for each game the team lost in 2019, Brian Flores, who has since been fired, alleges in a discrimination lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
Flores' accusations come as part of a class-action complaint against the National Football League and its teams. The point of losing games in his first season at the helm in Miami was to put the Dolphins in a better position during the next NFL draft, Flores alleges.
Besides owning the Dolphins, as head of Related, Ross oversaw the development of the massive Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, as well as such projects as Time Warner Center — now the Deutsche Bank Center — and the Bronx Terminal Market, also in New York, and developments in Abu Dhabi, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles and other places.
Flores was fired in January after completing his third season as head coach with an overall 24-25 record, with the last two seasons winning ones. The suit alleges that his refusal to throw games at Ross' behest was a factor in his dismissal.
"In reality, the writing had been on the wall since Mr. Flores’ first season as Head Coach of the Dolphins, when he refused his owner’s directive to 'tank' for the first pick in the draft," the suit says.
"Indeed, during the 2019 season, Miami’s owner, Stephen Ross, told Mr. Flores that he would pay him $100,000 for every loss, and the team’s General Manager, Chris Grier, told Mr. Flores that 'Steve' was 'mad' that Mr. Flores’ success in winning games that year was 'compromising [the team’s] draft position,'” the suit alleges.
Flores also alleges that Ross pressured him into recruiting an unnamed prominent quarterback in violation of the league’s anti-tampering rules. Rumors abound that the unnamed quarterback was Tom Brady, who won seven Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring on Tuesday.
Flores' suit further characterizes the NFL as "rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of Black Head Coaches, Coordinators and General Managers."
"With regards to the allegations being made by Brian Flores, I am a man of honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding," Ross said in a statement issued late Wednesday. "I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.
"We understand there are media stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully. I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization, from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims."
The complaint also calls Flores' recent interview for the New York Giants head coaching position a “sham process.” The filing opens with a text message from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick saying he thinks the Giants are naming Brian Daboll, a White man, their new head coach — three days before Flores' interview for the position. The Giants hired Daboll as head coach last week.
The suit seeks to establish a class action on behalf of the NFL's more than 40 Black coaches, general managers and job candidates.
"We vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organization," the Dolphins said in a statement on Tuesday. “The implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect."
UPDATE, FEB. 3, 12:10 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement Related Chairman Stephen Ross issued late Wednesday in response to Brian Flores’ lawsuit.