Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Miami Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville told reporters Wednesday that any directive or belief that the team should tank from owner Stephen Ross never managed to get in to the locker room in 2019.
“From the very best down, [the goal was] to win football games and prepare and obtain prepared to gothat’s how it certainly is been,” he said. “That’s how I believe this game is right. That’s what we do, that’s what I owe the overall game, each time we get an opportunity to compete, we do our best. There is never anything besides that expressed to us or even to me.”
“That’s not how we’re wired,” he added. “None of this was ever shared.”
In the lawsuit former head coach Brian Flores filed contrary to the NFL and several its teams, like the Dolphins, alleging racist hiring practices, he accused Ross of offering him around $100,000 per loss in the 2019 season in order to tank for an improved draft pick.
He also said that general manager Chris Grier said Ross was “mad” that the team’s late-season wins were “compromising [the team’s] draft position,” per ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacque.
The NFL investigation into Ross and the Dolphins didn’t find proof intentionally losing through the 2019 season, though it did discover that the dog owner “made comments to team president and CEO Tom Garfinkel, general manager Chris Grier, senior vice president Brandon Shore and Flores that the team’s draft position should take priority over winning games.”
Are you aware that accusation that Flores was offered $100,000 per loss, the NFL found “differing recollections concerning the wording, timing and context” and figured it had been “not intended or taken up to be considered a serious offer, nor was the topic pursued whatsoever by Mr. Ross or other people at the club.”
“I’m thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Ross are true,” Flores said in a statement following the NFL’s ruling. “Simultaneously, I’m disappointed to discover that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’ offers and pressure to tank games particularly when I wrote and submitted a letter at that time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at that time that your investigator has in her possession.
“As the investigator discovered that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence.”
However, as part of its overall investigation in to the Dolphins, the league did fine Ross $1.5 million and suspend him for six games, took away a 2023 first-rounder and 2024 third-rounder and banned vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal from any league meetings for the entirety of the 2022 season to make “impermissible contact” with quarterback Tom Brady and former SAINTS head coach Sean Payton while these were employed with other teams.
Flores, 41, was fired by the Dolphins in January after going 24-25 across three seasons because the team’s head coach. He was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers to serve as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach this offseason.