Brian Flores Has 'Corroborating Evidence' to Prove His Boss Tried to Pay Him to Tank. He's Also Totally Cool With Bill Belichick.
If anyone in the NFL thought that landing an assistant's job with the Steelers was going to somehow placate Brian Flores, saving the league from a potentially damaging and expensive lawsuit, they've got another thing coming.
While he'd been comparatively quiet for a couple of days, Flores has just made it clear he's (to borrow lyrics from The Chicks) not ready to back down, not ready to place nice. In fact, now that he's seen statements from the Dolphins denying that owner Steve Ross offered him money to tank games in order to improve their draft pick, he's pushing more chips into the middle of the table.
Pro Football Talk - In an interview slated to air on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Flores’ attorney, Doug Wigdor, said Flores and his legal team “definitely have corroborating evidence” to prove Flores’ claims about Ross. And Wigdor said that evidence will be shared with the NFL, separate and apart from Flores’ lawsuit.
“We definitely would share it with them,” Wigdor said, according to a transcript provided by HBO.
Assuming that's not just a bluff, some elite form of legal maneuvering designed to get Ross to cave in and the NFL to settle quickly, it's an absolutely wild development in this story. I mean, how does Flores have proof? Could Ross have been dumb enough to put the offer in writing? Did he have a big, lottery winner-sized, carboard, novelty check made out to Flores for $1.6 million with "0-16/Joe Burrow" on the memo line? Was Flores wearing a wire? Did he have a witness hiding in the bushes shooting when the offer was made? It staggers the imagination to think that an owner willing to conspire with his head coach in such a sketchy, underhanded and possibly even illegal (fraud is a crime, after all) scheme would leave any kind of proof so that it's more than a "his word against mine" situation. But just because you have billions of dollars doesn't make you smart.
And should that evidence get presented, for sure it will make it's way out into the public. This stuff always gets leaked. Just consider the Ray Rice elevator video, which the league thought they had buried. And if this suit doesn't get settled and the evidence against Ross gets leaked, it's going to make for Awkwardness Level: Maximum when Pittsburgh travels to Miami this season.
What won't be nearly so awkward will be the Patriots visit to Pittsburgh. Because even though a quote from Bill Belichick's text is literally the first sentence in Flores' lawsuit, he's got nothing but love and admiration for the man:
Boston Globe - Appearing on the I Am Athlete Podcast, Flores said Belichick’s message … was an honest mistake. He said he included the text in his lawsuit because he believes it strengthens his discrimination case against the league.
“I’m not mad,” Flores said. “He sent a text message to the wrong person. I’m certainly guilty of that.”
Podcast host Brandon Marshall called Belichick “the GOAT,” and Flores quickly agreed.
“I think the one thing people don’t know about Bill is he listens,” said Flores. “He listens. So if you have — and again, you’ve got to earn the right for him to listen — but if you have an idea, if you have a thought, if you have a person or there’s a matchup you think that we can win, a part in the game, he’ll listen. He may add something to it. He may throw it out. But he listens. I think that’s one of his greatest strengths."
So there's that. Flores has a beef with the rest of the league, but he and the man who gave him the opportunity to earn the right to be worthy of being listened to? They're good. He appreciates the chance he was given to succeed in Foxboro. And he made the most of it, obviously.
The only area where I'll disagree with him is when he calls it "a mistake" on Belichick's part. Seeing the chaos this has unleashed, and continues to unleash, I'm becoming more convinced by the day this was all part of the Sith Lord's master plan. He's wreaked havoc with a divisional opponent and set in motion a Category 5 shitstorm in the offices of the league that has done his team dirty time and time again.
That text was a precision, laser-guided missile that hit its target and the shockwaves from the blast have only just begun to be felt. And his fingerprints aren't even on it because he's spent years working the long con that he doesn't know how technology works. And in a couple of years when Flores leaves Pittsburgh to come back and win more Super Bowls on Belchick's staff, we'll see the plan reach its final conclusion. The GOAT has done it again.