CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns say suggestions by former coach Hue Jackson and an associate that he was paid by the team to lose games are “completely fabricated.”
Jackson, who is now coaching at Grambling, made several posts on Twitter inferring that he received bonus payments from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during his two-plus seasons with the team.
The Browns strongly refuted Jackson’s claims.
“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.”
Jackson was fired eight games into the 2018 season. He went 3-36-1 with Cleveland, losing all 16 games in 2017.
In offering support to former Miami coach Brian Flores — who filed a discrimination lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL and three teams on allegations of racial discrimination and unethical practices — Jackson made statements implying the Browns paid him to lose.
In response to a tweet suggesting Haslam wasn’t offering him $100,000 per loss — the amount Flores claims the Dolphins wanted to pay him — Jackson wrote that Haslam “was happy while we kept losing” and “Trust me it was a good number.”
Also, Kimberly Diemert, executive director of the Hue Jackson Foundation, which works to combat human trafficking, made several posts claiming the Browns made the offer to Jackson and that they have records that will help Flores.
Jackson did not immediately respond to messages left by the AP.
Not long after the Browns released their statement, Jackson appeared on ESPN and said the team did offer bonus money if he met certain criteria.
“Teams that win are just not the youngest team, not that the youngest teams can’t win, so I didn’t understand the process,” Jackson said. ”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.
“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.”
Jackson said he told Haslam his only objectives were to improve the Browns and win.
“I remember very candidly saying to Jimmy, ‘I’m not interested in bonus money,’ because I’ve never known that to be a bonus,” he said. “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.”
On Wednesday, Diemert again went on Twitter to say she has proof of Jackson’s claims, and said he and Flores are acting to benefit others.
“Fighting for what is right for everybody is what matters most,” she wrote. “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.”
Jackson was hired by the Browns in 2016 after serving as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator. The team was in a full rebuilding mode and general manager Sashi Browns was aggressive in trying to acquire draft picks.
The Browns went 1-15 in Jackson’s first season, got the No. 1 overall pick and selected defensive end Myles Garrett, who has become one of the league’s best players. Cleveland went 0-16 in 2017 before taking quarterback Baker Mayfield with the top pick.
Jackson was fired after the Browns started 2-5-1 in 2018.