The Miami Dolphins were stripped of two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 2023, and owner Steve Ross is suspended until Oct. 17 and fined $1.5 million after the NFL announced its findings following an independent investigation into violations of the policy.
The NFL’s Tuesday release announced that while the team didn’t intentionally lose any games – or tanks – during the 2019 season, Miami had an “unconscionable communication” with quarterback Tom Brady. between 2019 and 2020, while he was with the New England Patriots.
The six-month investigation, led by former U.S. attorney and SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White, looked into allegations made by former coach Brian Flores in a class action lawsuit filed following his dismissal Dolphins.
The Dolphins have to give up their own first-round pick in 2023. They still own one from the San Francisco 49ers. Miami is also deprived of a third-round selection in the 2024 draft.
During Ross’ suspension, he cannot be present at Dolphins facilities and cannot represent the club at any NFL team or event. Ross cannot attend league meetings until the 2023 annual meeting and is removed from all league committees indefinitely.
Bruce Beal, vice-president and sponsor of the Dolphins who is waiting to buy the team from Ross, will not be able to attend league meetings for the remainder of 2022 and has been fined $500,000.
Flores’ most damning claim against Ross in his lawsuit was that he offered him $100,000 to lose games in 2019, Flores’ first season at the helm. The investigation revealed “differing recollections of wording, time and context”.
The investigation, however, revealed tampering violations with Brady. He said communication between the Dolphins and Brady began in August 2019 and continued throughout that regular season and playoffs.
“Investigators have uncovered tampering violations of an unprecedented scale and severity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. “I know of no previous example of a team breaching the ban on tampering with both a head coach and a star player, to the potential detriment of several other clubs, over a period of years. no previous instance in which the property has been so directly implicated in the violations.”
Ross responded to the league’s findings with a statement Tuesday.
“The independent investigation clears our organization of any issues related to the tanking and all other Brian Flores allegations. As I have stated throughout, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and that matter is now resolved” , Ross said in a statement.
“Regarding tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusion and the punishment. However, I will accept the outcome as the most important thing is that there are no distractions for our team as we let’s start an exciting and winning season. I won’t let anything get in the way of that.”
Flores’ lawsuit was filed in an attempt to expose what he sees as racial inequities in the hiring practices of coaches in top NFL positions. He claimed his resistance to Ross’s request, in a season when the Dolphins had a chance to earn the No. 1 draft pick if they continued to lose, played a role in his firing after the 2021 season.
In 2019, Flores led a largely talentless team to five wins, which left Miami with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft. The Dolphins used the selection to sign quarterback Tua Tagovailoa . Flores had back-to-back winning seasons in the next two campaigns, which made Ross and the Dolphins fire him on Jan. 10 a bit of a surprise.
Flores was then expected to be hired for another vacant NFL head coaching position this offseason, but several teams moved on. He described, in his lawsuit, feeling like he had gone through a fake interview with the New York Giants, an idea sparked by a mistaken congratulatory message from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who wanted to send the message to his other former assistant coach named Brian, Brian Daboll. Daboll, who previously served as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator, landed the job for the Giants.
Goodell has previously said he can’t just remove an owner, as he said of Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder about the organization’s ongoing work culture review and accusations of female employees of widespread sexual harassment by team executives.
Ross has owned the Dolphins since 2009. If he sells the team, Bruce Beal, a New York real estate executive and current vice president and partner of the Dolphins, has the contractual right to acquire the team.
After firing Flores, the Dolphins hired former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as their coach. Prior to the move, Miami reportedly sued former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who retired this offseason, to pair him with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who briefly retired early in the season. 2022.