CLEVELAND — After allegations stemming from a Twitter account connected to, but not verified to be, former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson claiming that he was incentivized to lose games during his tenure, the organization is refuting any such thing happened.
The Twitter account, which has been linked to Jackson in the past, made claims that the Browns paid bonuses for those leading the organization to tank in 2016 and 2017, following former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filing a lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, Broncos and Giants alleging discrimination in his interview processes and in his firing in January.
In the lawsuit, Flores alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss in 2019, and when his team won games, Ross would allegedly get "mad" about the results compromising the organization's draft picks.
That allegation prompted the account connected to Jackson to make similar claims, with Kimberly Diemert, the Executive Director of the Hue Jackson Foundation, offering to provide "records" that would help Flores with his case.
"NFL and [NFL Commissioner Rodger Goddell] knew about this and covered it up. They did this [Browns]. Paid [Sashi] Brown, [Paul] DePodesta and [Andrew] Berry bonus $ along with [Hue Jackson] to TANK for 2016 and 2017," Diemert wrote on Twitter.
The account associated with Jackson responded, claiming he can "back up" his claims.
"I stand with Brian Flores. I can back up every word i’m saying," the Jackson account tweeted.
Jackson was hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2016, finishing his first season with the team with a 1-15 record. In 2017, Jackson and his Browns went 0-16, making Cleveland the second team in league history to finish with a winless record. Jackson was fired in 2018. Over the course of Jackson's tenure in Cleveland, the Browns went 3-36-1, with a 2-5-1 start in 2018. On the road, Jackson was 0-20.
In 2017, John Dorsey was the general manager, Andrew Berry and Ken Kovash were the vice presidents of player personnel, and Paul DePodesta was in his same role as Chief Strategy Officer.
The claims from the account linked to Jackson imply that the Browns had no intention of winning games the season that they went 0-16, despite the organization being aggressive in 2017 through free agency and player retention, signing Joel Bitonio to an extension and penning a deal with JC Tretter, as well as adding draft picks with the Brock Osweiler trade, Kevin Zeitler and Kenny Britt (but we won't talk about that one).
After the claims made their rounds on social media, a Browns spokesperson issued the following statement regarding the claims:
The recent comments by Hue Jackson and his representatives relating to his tenure as our head coach are completely fabricated. Any accusation that any member of our organization was incentivized to deliberately lose games is categorically false.
Jackson later appeared on ESPN where he walked back his allegations and said that the team never explicitly paid him to lose games, but rather didn't fire him after two losing seasons when he believes they should have, which he believes was an incentive to lose.
I wasn't offered $100,000 for every game but there was a substantial amount of money made within what happened in the situation every year at the end of it and I didn't really truly understand why until all those numbers and you add it up and you go 'what is this?' And then you look at Year 3 and 4 and it talks about winning games, it talks about winning eight to 10 games, winning 10 games and winning the division. To me, that's amazing to me and no coach takes a job to lose and I think people understand that. You take jobs to win, your contract says win so you don't get paid for losing. And then here I am after being 1-31, I'm kept a third year and given a contract extension that nobody knew. So that should tell everybody something right there. Why do you keep a coach who's 1-31 when your track record has been to get rid of coaches as fast you can, you give them a contract extension, you keep that quiet and the same people who are involved in all of these transactions are still running the organization today. So that means they must have been doing something right through all that losing.
Jackson claims that he was brought in to be the face of a team that, in the four year plan he was given, could not win in the first two years—despite starting the season that was expected to result in more wins with talent added to the roster 2-5-1 and following his firing, Gregg Williams taking over and finishing the season 5-3.
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