LOS ANGELES — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday called Brian Flores’ bribery allegations involving Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross “very disturbing,” adding “we need to get to the bottom of it.”
And while Goodell would not discuss possible punishment if the league’s independent investigation finds Flores’ accusations are accurate, Goodell — either intentionally or not — did not rule out the idea that Ross could face possible expulsion.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses Miami Dolphins scandal
Flores last week accused the league and three teams — the Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos — of racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit.
Flores believes the Giants conducted a sham interview when he met with the team regarding its head coach vacancy. He also says that Ross offered him $100,000 per loss during the team’s 2019 tanking season.
The Giants and Dolphins have denied all of these allegations.
“First, I found all of the allegations, whether they’re based on racism or discrimination, or the integrity of our game, all of those to me were very disturbing,” Goodell said Wednesday during his annual Super Bowl news conference. “They are very serious matters to us on all levels, and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them.”
“Integrity of the game is obviously an important element,” Goodell added. “.. We are going to look into that. We are going to make sure if there were violations, they won’t be tolerated. I couldn’t speculate on what they’ll be, because I have to figure out what the facts are. What’s the outcome? When we know what those facts are, and the impact they’ll have on our game, we’ll deal with it very seriously.”
When asked if member clubs have a mechanism to remove a fellow owner from the league, Goodell replied: “I do believe that clubs do have the authority.”
Ross has said he will “cooperate fully” with any NFL inquiry.
NFL’s reversal on Brian Flores lawsuit
That NFL’s stance is essentially a reversal of its initial reaction to Flores’ lawsuit, in which the league said Flores’ claims were “without merit.” Goodell on Wednesday clarified that that referred to the legal claims in the suit, not its general point.
Rather, Goodell seems to agree with Flores’ argument that not enough work has been done in promoting and retaining minority head coaches. After this year’s hiring and firing cycle — which featured nine head coach openings — just five of the NFL’s 32 teams have minorities in the top spot.
“That is something we all have to bear responsibility for,” Goodell said. He said all options are on the table to fix the NFL’s coaching inequity, including potentially scrapping the entire Rooney Rule.
“Is there something flawed with our process? If there is, what can we do to resolve that,” Goodell said. “… If it requires an overhaul, you do it.”
More from Goodell’s news conference
Goodell on Wednesday also confirmed that the league will hold games in both Germany and Mexico during the 2022 season. Indeed, plans include a game in either Munich or Frankfurt in each of the next four years.
Additionally, he said that Los Angeles — and its $5 billion SoFi Stadium — is expected to be part of the regular rotation for Super Bowl host cities and that the game could return here as soon as 2026.