NFL clears Browns after former coach said team tanked games
CLEVELAND (AP) — The NFL handed former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson another loss.
The league announced Monday that it found “no evidence” the Browns purposely lost games or incentivized personnel to do so after Jackson alleged in February the team tried to lose during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
The league said Monday that a 60-day independent review determined “none of the allegations could be substantiated.”
Former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White led the investigative team.
Jackson went 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons for Cleveland before he was fired eight games into the 2018 season.
Jackson had claimed Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam incentivized people in the organization to lose over a four-year period.
Jackson later softened those comments.
The investigation concluded there wasn’t evidence supporting Jackson’s claims the team tanked during those seasons, and the club’s ownership or football personnel “made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favorable draft position.”
The Browns went 1-15 in 2016 and lost all 16 games the following season under Jackson.
White and other lawyers interviewed Jimmy Haslam along with current and former members of the organization.
The league said Jackson initially agreed to meet with investigators before deciding against it.
The investigators had access to Jackson’s public statements and filings and testimony in a prior arbitration proceeding.
The league said the Browns also provided documents, including emails, texts, internal memos and presentation decks to assist the inquiry.
The Browns denied Jackson’s assertions from the start, and are pleased with the investigators’ findings.
“We appreciate the independent investigation led by Mary Jo White and the Debevoise team which brings closure to these allegations that Hue Jackson publicly recanted shortly after they were made and that we’ve known all along are categorically false,” said team spokesman Peter Jean-Baptiste. “As we’ve previously stated, we welcomed this investigation because the integrity of our game is something that should not be taken lightly and an independent review was crucial in bringing a conclusion to this matter.”
Jackson is currently coaching at Grambling.