Falcons owner Arthur Blank on tanking allegations against Stephen Ross: 'There probably couldn’t be anything more serious'

Jarrett Bell
USA TODAY

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Allegations that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered former head coach Brian Flores six-figure bonuses for losing games in 2019 as an apparent effort to secure a No. 1 overall draft pick certainly has the attention of at least one key partner: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

Flores included the charges against Ross as part of the landmark lawsuit filed against the NFL and three teams, including the Dolphins, which has prompted commissioner Roger Goodell to launch a pending NFL investigation.

“The allegations, there probably couldn’t be anything more serious,” Blank said during NFL owners meetings on Tuesday, addressing a small group of media outlets, including USA TODAY Sports. “Certainly, in the top layer of things you could be concerned about.

“I have no reason to know if that was true or not true. I know the league is taking it, Roger is taking it, and his partners are taking it very seriously.”

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Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross attends a press conference introducing Mike McDaniel (not pictured) as the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins at Baptist Health Training Center.

The investigation is headed by Mary Jo White, the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who is also looking into new misconduct allegations against Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. In his lawsuit, Flores contended that Ross offered him $100,000 for each loss in 2019, which might have resulted in securing former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the top draft pick. Ross has denied the claims, calling them "false and defamatory."

“The investigator has great credentials,” Blank said. “I think she’ll look at it very carefully from every perspective. I certainly hope it’s not true. If it is, I expect the Commissioner will be very harsh on it.”

Blank pointed out that Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley was recently suspended for at least one year for violating the NFL’s gambling policy while inactive on personal leave for the team.

The allegations against Ross, however, are much more serious as they relate to the possibility of altering results as part of an effort to “tank” games.

“It does strike at the core of what we value – the integrity of the league, the integrity of the (NFL) shield,” Blank said. “We’ll see what comes up.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.