The Miami Dolphins have found themselves in a bit of hot water with the NFL. After a six-month investigation, the organization has been found guilty of violating the league’s anti-tampering policy on multiple occasions. Team owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal were at the heart of the findings.
Two of the instances involved Tom Brady and one involved Sean Payton. The first instance involving Brady was led by vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal, who led impermissible communication with Brady while he was under contract with the New England Patriots.
Ross and other executives within the organization were informed of the discussions that were held. Following the 2021 season, Ross and Beal both tampered with Brady, this time while he was under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The talks this time focused on Tom Brady’s life after football, joining the Dolphins as a limited partner or as an executive. The possibility of playing for Miami was discussed as well according to the investigation that was held.
This past January is when the tampering with Payton occurred. They have impermissible communication with Don Yee, the agent for both Tom Brady and Sean Payton, about Payton becoming the team’s next head coach.
The investigation found that those talks came before Payton announced his retirement and that they did not seek consent from the New Orleans Saints, who still had Sean Payton as their head coach.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement, saying this was unlike anything he has seen before.
“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” Goodell said in a statement. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”
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This all stemmed from former head coach Brian Flores’s lawsuit alleging racism in the league’s hiring practices and that Ross was incentivizing the team to lose games. While the investigation didn’t provide evidence of the team intentionally trying to lose games, which Flores was disappointed by as Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence, he was happy they found his statements to be true.
“I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true. At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’s offers and pressure to tank games especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at the time which the investigator has in her possession,” he said. “While the investigator found that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence. There is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game. When the integrity of the game is called into question, fans suffer, and football suffers.”
The investigation acknowledged that talks were held that the team’s draft position should take priority over winning games. As for being offered $100,000 for losses, the investigation stated, “differing recollections about the wording, timing, and context … was not intended or taken to be a serious offer, nor was the subject pursued in any respect by Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.”
As a result of what they were found guilty of, the Miami Dolphins have been stripped of a 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick. Ross was fined $1.5 million and suspended through October 17th. As part of the suspension, Ross is not allowed at the Dolphins’ facility or to represent the team at any team event. He is also barred from any league meeting before the annual meeting in 2023.
Beal was fined $500,000 and isn’t allowed to attend any league meeting for the rest of 2022.
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