It's one thing when NFL fans of bad teams may encourage their teams to tank to secure better draft position. It's entirely different when the front office pays employees to make it happen. That's because it's highly illegal.
Amid allegations from former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and former Browns head coach Hue Jackson that they were offered extra money for losing during their first years with their teams, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio suggested that criminal charges could be the end result.
Florio cited the Sports Bribery Act, a federal law that criminalizes bribery for the purpose of influencing the outcome of games. Penalties for violating the act range from fines to five years in federal prison.
“Whoever carries into effect, attempts to carry into effect, or conspires with any other person to carry into effect any scheme in commence to influence, in any way, by bribery any sporting contest, with knowledge of the purpose of such scheme is to influence by bribery that contests, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both," 18 U.S. Code § 224 says.
NFL fans are intrigued by the possibilities that could emerge from this. Some feel the NFL, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross might get a slap on the wrist. Others hope the drama is at least exciting:
Some Browns fans don't appear too surprised that Jimmy Haslam is being implicated in "shadiness."
The fallout from these allegations might wind up being tremendous and lead to wholesale changes in the NFL. But there's also the possibility that it gets swept under the rug.
We might not hear more about this for days or even months given how federal prosecutions work.
Will NFL federal prosecution arise from this?