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Mary Jo White is investigating Hue Jackson’s retracted claim of tanking by the Browns

Way back in 2019, Brian Flores says he sent the Dolphins a memo about Stephen Ross' alleged desire to tank, and Mike Florio wants to know how Miami handled it.

If Mary Jo White needs a bigger boat, she’ll soon be able to afford one.

The NFL’s “independent investigator” of choice has added yet another project to a list that currently stands at three. Per the Browns, she’ll be investigating claims made by former head coach Hue Jackson that the team tanked on his watch.

“Even though Hue recanted his allegations a short time after they were made,” the team said, “it was important to us and to the integrity of the game to have an independent review of the allegations. We welcomed an investigation and we are confident the results will show, as we’ve previously stated, that these allegations are categorically false. We have fully cooperated with Mary Jo White and look forward to her findings.”

It’s not clear when the investigation began. The statement implies that it’s already underway, and that it’s been happening.

It’s also not clear whether the Browns asked for it, or whether the league initiated it.

After former Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged in his lawsuit against the team that owner Stephen Ross offered Flores $100,000 per loss in 2019. Jackson chimed in regarding a similar practice in Cleveland. We argued that the time that an investigation was needed, especially after the executive director of Jackson’s foundation claimed to have documentation that Jackson, former Browns executive Sashi Brown, current Browns executive Paul DiPodesta, and current G.M. Andrew Berry received bonuses in 2016 and 2017, seasons that culminated in the Browns “earning” the first overall pick in the next draft.

The Browns strongly denied the claim. Jackson later backed off, saying he wasn’t offered money to lose games.

Obviously, a direct cash-for-clunking offer would create major problems, along with civil and criminal liability. But what if it wasn’t quite so direct? What if the Browns had a bonus system that was tied to factors that weren’t conducive to winning games?

Bonuses could have been based on, for example, unused cap space or extra draft picks or specific statistical achievements (or lack thereof) that would, if triggered, make it harder to win wouldn’t constitute an incentive to lose, but an incentive to engage in practices that will necessarily make it harder to win.

Regardless, White’s findings quite possibly will be influenced by her perception as to the findings that her client wants. That’s how the same lawyer often keeps getting asked to conduct “independent” investigations. The NFL is pleased with White’s work, and time will tell where her work leads in pending investigations against the Browns, the Dolphins, and the Commanders.