Dolphins Owner Penalized for 'Unprecedented' Tampering

Investigation found team executives went way out of bounds trying to get Brady
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2022 2:32 PM CDT
NFL Hits Dolphins Hard for Tampering With Tom Brady
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross gestures at the end of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, on Oct. 24, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The NFL has suspended Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and fined him $1.5 million for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, FIle)

(Newser) – The Miami Dolphins won’t need to worry so much about who to pick in the first round of the 2023 draft. Nor should they expect to see owner Stephen Ross at team facilities for a couple months. Per USA Today, these and other penalties were handed down Tuesday after a six-month investigation that uncovered "tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity," according to a statement by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Led by former US Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White, investigators found the Dolphins conducted "impermissible communications" with Tom Brady on three occasions between 2019 and 2021, Fox News reports. In those conversations, it was suggested Brady become "a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly [serve] as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins."

Investigators also say the Dolphins tampered with coach Sean Payton early this year while he was still under contract with the Saints. Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sparked the investigation with a February lawsuit that accused Ross of pressuring him to lose games in order to improve the team's draft position, according to ESPN. Although they found no direct evidence of tanking, investigators did learn that Ross commented to fellow executives that "the team's draft position should take priority over winning games." Goodell addressed the matter in his statement, saying, "every club is expected to make a good faith effort to win every game … the integrity of the game, and public confidence in professional football demand no less."

In addition to losing draft picks and being banned from all NFL events through October 17, Ross was fined $1.5 million—a meaningful if symbolic penalty for someone worth $8.4 billion. Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal was also fined $500,000 for his role in the tampering plot. Per NBC News, Ross responded via the Dolphins Twitter account. "I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment," he wrote. "However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season." (Read more Miami Dolphins stories.)

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