The NFL has stripped the Miami Dolphins of two draft picks and suspended and fined owner Stephen Ross after an investigation into allegations of tampering and tanking revealed that his team. had illicit contact with star quarterback Tom Brady and former Saints coach Sean Payton’s agent.
The investigation, led by former US attorney and SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White and lawyers at the Debevoise law firm, found the Dolphins violated anti-counterfeiting rules three times. The NFL made the announcement Tuesday. The investigation also found that the team did not intentionally lose games called tanks, but noted that Ross repeatedly suggested the team prioritized its position in the draft rather than winning games in 2019. during the season, the report said.
The penalty will see the Dolphins forfeit their 2023 first-round pick. and the third round in 2024. Ross is suspended until October 17, 2022 for six. for the season’s matches, and he is allocated 1.5 million. USD fine, the statement said.
“As far as tampering goes, I strongly disagree with the findings and the punishment,” Ross said in a statement posted on the Miami Dolphins’ Twitter account. “However, I will accept the result as the most important thing is that it does not hinder our team as we start an exciting and winning season. I won’t let anyone get in the way of that.”
The investigation found that the Dolphins had “unauthorized communications” with Brady in 2019-20, when he was a member of the New England Patriots, as well as in 2021. during and after the season he signed with Brady. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to an NFL statement. Those second discussions focused on Brady “becoming a limited partner with the Dolphins and possibly in a football executive role,” as well as the possibility of playing for the Dolphins, the investigation found.
The league found Dolphins vice president Bruce Beal had contact with Brady and fined him $500,000. The Dolphins had no comment when asked about Beal’s actions.
In addition, in 2022 In January, the Dolphins had “unauthorized communications” with Payton’s agent, who was then the head coach of the New Orleans Saints and has since retired.
“Investigators have found tampering violations of unprecedented scale and severity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “I don’t know of a single case where a team has violated the ban on a head coach and player who could harm several other clubs over the years. Nor am I aware of a previous case where ownership is so directly linked to infringement.
The investigation also looked into whether the Dolphins intentionally lost games in 2019. season to improve their position called tanks. Dolphins 2019 finished the season 5-11 and earned his fifth of 2020. NFL draft picks.
An NFL investigation found the team did not lose the game on purpose, and no member of the club, including Ross, directed then-Dolphins coach Brian Flores to lose the game, according to the report. But the investigation revealed that Ross repeatedly expressed his belief that the team’s new position should be more important than the win-loss record.
in February, Flores told CNN that Ross made it clear to him he will give him $100,000 for every game Flores loses. Ross denied the allegations at the time, calling them “baseless, unfair and despicable.”
The study found that people “remember the wording, timing, and context of an offer differently,” according to the NFL’s press release.
“However worded, such a comment was not intended or considered a serious offer, nor was it addressed by Mr Ross or anyone else at the club,” the statement said.
Goodell said in a statement that the comment, even if it was a joke, could harm the integrity of the game.
“Every club is expected to make a sincere effort to win every game,” he said in a statement. “The integrity of the game and public trust in professional football demand nothing less. The owner or senior manager must understand the importance of his words and the risk that the comment will be taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intention or expectation. Even if they are made in jest and are not intended to be taken seriously, comments suggesting that the new position is more important than winning can be misconstrued and pose an unnecessary potential risk to the integrity of the game.
He praised Flores, who was fired earlier this year and sued the NFL’s Dolphins. and other teams accused of racial discrimination continued to struggle to win games. The NFL and the team have denied the allegations.
“Mr. Ross’s comments did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to winning, and the Dolphins competed to win every game,” Goodell said. “Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comments about the relative importance of the new position to affect his commitment to winning throughout the season.”
In his statement, Flores expressed his disappointment at what he said was an NFL investigation undermining Ross’ comments about the tank ejection.
“I am grateful that the NFL investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross to be true,” Flores said. “At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator discounted Mr. Ross’s suggestions and pressure to play tight games, especially since I wrote and submitted a letter to Dolphins executives at the time documenting my serious concerns about this subject at the time the investigator had it.”
His attorneys, Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis, expressed similar disappointment at the investigation’s assessment of Ross’s comments.
“We’re really disappointed that the investigator and apparently the commissioner made excuses for the very inappropriate comments that go to the heart of the integrity of the game, because tanking is a joke, especially when there was a letter from coach Flores at the time showing that these comments were received by the coach Flores,” they said in a statement.
“Today’s sentence is clearly inadequate and dissuasive. Unfortunately, it remains clear that the NFL cannot police itself, so we look forward to continuing to push the legal process, prove all of Brian’s claims, as well as black managers, coaches and candidates, and force reality. replace the NFL.
Ross, meanwhile, said in a statement that the Dolphins were cleared of dumping the tanks during the investigation.
“An independent investigation cleared our organization of any issues with the tanks and all other allegations against Brian Flores,” he said. “As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and the matter is now put to rest.”