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No proof of Cleveland Browns 'tanking' claims

Former coach Hue Jackson suggested that the team were offered incentives to lose during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Former Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson claims the team were offered incentives to lose.
Former Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson claims the team were offered incentives to lose.
Image: UPI/PA Images

THE NFL said on Monday it had found no evidence to back claims made by former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson that the team offered incentives to lose during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

In a statement, the league said that a two-month-long independent review of allegations made by former Browns head coach Jackson found that “none of the allegations could be substantiated.”

Jackson said in February that the Browns had operated a four-year plan which effectively encouraged the team to lose.

Jackson told ESPN bonuses were paid if certain targets were met, which included aggregate rankings and having the youngest team.

“I didn’t understand what the plan was, I asked for clarity because it did not talk about winning and losing until Year 3 and 4,” Jackson told ESPN.

“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.”

The Browns, who went 1-31 in the 2016 and 2017 seasons under Jackson, denied the claims, describing them as “completely fabricated.”

The NFL said on Monday its investigation, led by former US Attorney Mary Jo White and a team of investigators from the Debevoise law firm in New York, had been unable to uncover any evidence to support Jackson’s allegations.

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“The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the Browns’ four-year plan or the club’s ownership or football personnel sought to lose or incentivised losses and made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favourable draft position,” the NFL said in a statement.

The NFL said investigators received full cooperation and interviews from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and other current and former members of the organisation. Jackson declined to be interviewed.

Thousands of pages of documents, including emails, texts, internal memos and presentation decks and other material relating to club operations were also turned over to investigators.

– © AFP 2022

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