Hue Jackson claimed the Cleveland Browns offered bonus money for losing during the 2016 and 2017 seasons – his first two years as a head coach.
Jackson, who is now the head coach at Grambling State University, told ESPN on Wednesday there was money to be made for hitting certain milestones, like attaining a certain number of draft picks and being the youngest team in the league.
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“Teams that win are just not the youngest team, not that the youngest teams can’t win, so I didn’t understand the process. I didn’t understand what the plan was, I asked for clarity because it did not talk about winning and losing until year three and four. So that told you right there that something wasn’t correct, but I still couldn’t understand it until I had the team that I had,” he told the outlet during an appearance on “SportsCenter.”
“And I remember very candidly saying to [Browns team owner Jimmy Haslam], ‘I’m not interested in bonus money,’ because I’ve never known that to be a bonus. I was interested in taking whatever that money was and putting it toward getting more players on our football team because I didn’t think we were very talented at all. I know what good football teams look like, play like, what they act like, and we didn’t have a lot of talented players on the team at that time.”
Jackson was 1-31 during his time with the Browns and was at the helm in 2017 when the team became only the second in NFL history to finish a season winless. He was fired in the middle of the 2018 season.
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The claims come as former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged team owner Stephen Ross offered him a $100,000 incentive for tanking in order to get a higher draft pick. Ross refuted the claim in a statement later Wednesday.
Jackson first made the claims on Twitter. He wrote Haslam was “was happy while we kept losing,” and while it may not have been $100,000 he was offered to lose, Jackson assured followers, “Trust me it was a good number.”
Kimberly Diemert, the executive director of the Hue Jackson Foundation, said it had records to help Flores.
“Fighting for what is right for everybody is what matters most,” Diemert tweeted. “Both of these men have been fighting the right fight. People who know the facts know the fight. To win the war you must be strategic.”
The Browns denied the claims.
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“The recent comments by Hue Jackson and his representatives relating to his tenure as our head coach are completely fabricated,” team spokesperson Peter Jean-Baptiste said in a statement. “Any accusation that any member of our organization was incentivized to deliberately lose games is categorically false.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.