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Stephen Ross slams 'malicious' Brian Flores allegations, vows to 'defend my personal integrity'

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After more than 24 hours to think about it, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a fiery response to the claims made against him by ex-coach Brian Flores.

Ross released a statement just before midnight local time on Wednesday calling Flores' allegations in a class-action lawsuit "malicious" and "defamatory" while vowing to defend himself.

"With regards to the allegations being made by Brian Flores, I am a man of honor and integrity and cannot let them stand without responding," Ross wrote. "I take great personal exception to these malicious attacks, and the truth must be known. His allegations are false, malicious and defamatory.

"We understand that there are media reports stating that the NFL intends to investigate his claims, and we will cooperate fully. I welcome that investigation and I am eager to defend my personal integrity, and the integrity and values of the entire Miami Dolphins organization from these baseless, unfair and disparaging claims."

Ross' personal statement arrives in addition to a statement issued by the Dolphins on Tuesday denying the allegations shortly after Flores' lawsuit went public.

Flores leveled serious allegations against Ross

In his lawsuit, Flores accuses Ross of offering him $100,000 for every game lost during the 2019 season in an effort to tank for the No. 1 draft pick. That was Flores' first year on the job.

Flores was fired in January after three seasons, the last two of which produced winning records. He claims that the team conducted a smear campaign in media and in league circles after his dismissal in an effort to paint him as "an angry Black man."

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores walks off the field next to team owner Stephen Ross, left, after a loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 24, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Stephen Ross, left, has broken his silence on Brian Flores' allegations. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/via Getty Images)

Attempted game-fixing allegation has major implications

In addition to the allegations of racist hiring practices, Flores' claim that Ross offered to pay him to lose raises significant concerns about the integrity of NFL games. If true, it would have considerable ramifications for the league.

Trust that games are played fairly and honestly is at the heart of what makes the NFL — or any organized sports competition — work. Evidence that games are fixed at the ownership level would amount to a devastating blow for the NFL and its partners. The NFL is a multibillion dollar league annually. The stakes are evident, not to mention the implications for the lucrative sports betting industry.

NFL reportedly plans to investigate

The NFL issued a blanket denial of Flores' claims shortly after his lawsuit went public on Tuesday, dismissing the entirety of his allegations as "without merit." Flores' lawsuit also leveled accusations of racial discrimination against the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants and the NFL while citing alleged texts from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

On Wednesday, news broke that the NFL apparently isn't dismissing all of the claims. The Washington Post reported that the league plans to open an investigation with a focus on the allegations of tanking made against Ross — an investigation that Ross acknowledged — and welcomed — in his late-night statement.