NFL disciplines Miami Dolphins over team’s improper pursuit of Tom Brady

That The NFL has stripped the Miami Dolphins of two high-draft picks and a fine for owner Stephen Ross over the team’s improper pursuit of quarterback Tom Brady, officials said Tuesday.

Brady, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was still under contract New England Patriots 2019-20 when Miami made advances to the Hall of Famer’s surefire signal caller in violation of league rules, according to an NFL statement.

“This communication began back in August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and postseason,” the NFL statement said, which was specifically cited Ross and team vice president Bruce Beal.

Pictured: General Manager Chris Grier and owner Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
General Manager Chris Grier and owner Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Michael Reaves/Getty Images

“These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Mr Beal, who in turn kept Mr Ross and other Dolphins executives updated on his discussions with Mr Brady.”

While millions of average American workers are contacted daily by potential new employers, professional sports have a well-accepted norm against such practices. Advances, “manipulation,” by players and officers under contract with another team are strictly prohibited.

The Dolphins continued to pursue Brady even after he signed with Tampa Bay, the NFL said.

“The Dolphins again had improper communications with Mr. Brady and his agent during and after 2021 season while under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” according to the league.

“These discussions began no later than early December 2021 and have focused on Mr Brady becoming a limited partner of the Dolphins and potentially acting as football manager, although at times they have also included the possibility of him playing for the Dolphins. Both Messrs. Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.”

Ross was suspended until October 17 and fined $1.5 million. He may not enter the team facilities and cannot represent the team at any event. Additionally, Miami was stripped of its first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and its third-round pick of 2024.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scale and severity.”

“I am not aware of any instance where a team has broken a ban on manipulating both a head coach and a star player over a period of years, to the potential detriment of several other clubs. Likewise, I am not aware of any previous case where property has been so directly involved in the violations,” he added.

The NFL probe, led by former US Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White, has cleared the Dolphins of allegations that they intentionally lost games in 2019 to get better draft picks.

“The Dolphins fought hard to win every game, including at the end of the season They beat Cincinnati and New Englandalthough Miami’s position in the 2020 draft has deteriorated,” the league’s statement said.

Brian Flores, the former Dolphins coach who is now alleging racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit against the NFL, had accused Miami of attempting to lose games in a pro sports strategy known as “tanking.”

It is an awkward but often effective pro sports strategy to give winning a low priority so that payroll can be kept to a minimum while a team can be rewarded with high collegiate draft decisions that could lead to future success.

In addition to the “tanking” allegations, Flores had also accused the Dolphins of improperly recruiting Brady.

“I am grateful that the NFL investigator has determined that my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true,” Flores said in a statement.

“At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr Ross’ offers and pressure on Panzerspiele, particularly when I wrote and submitted a letter to Dolphins executives at the time, acknowledging my serious concerns about this issue documented at the time the investigator had it in her possession.”

Ross said in a statement Tuesday that his team never attempted to lose games.

“The independent investigation has exonerated our organization on all issues related to tanking and all other allegations by Brian Flores. As I have said throughout, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory and that issue is now being settled.”

The team also denied manipulating Brady.

“In terms of manipulation, I totally disagree with the conclusions and punishment,” Ross said. “However, I will accept the result because the most important thing is that there are no distractions for our team as we start an exciting and successful season. I won’t let anything get in the way of that.”

The NFL also found that the Dolphins had improper contact then-New Orleans coach Sean Payton last January, just before his retirement.

“Miami did not ask New Orleans for consent to have these discussions, which took place before Coach Payton announced his decision to step down as head coach of the Saints,” the league said. “Following that announcement, Miami requested permission to speak with Coach Payton for the first time, which New Orleans refused.” NFL disciplines Miami Dolphins over team’s improper pursuit of Tom Brady

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