The NFL has suspended Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross and stripped two draft picks after an investigator found the team violated the league’s anti-fraud policy by trying to lure quarterback Tom Brady and former coach Sean Payton to Miami.
At the same time, the investigator, former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, found no evidence that Ross had ordered the team’s former coach, Brian Flores, to miss games on purpose to improve his position in the college draft, Flores claims in federal. treatment in February.
White ruled that Ross’s offer to pay Flores $100,000 for each game the Dolphins lost — one of the most inflammatory claims in his lawsuit — “was not intended or intended as a serious offer, nor was the matter pursued in any way by the Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.’
However, as a result of the tampering charge, the Dolphins will forfeit their first-round draft pick in 2023 and their third-round pick in 2024. Ross will be suspended until Oct. 17 and will not be allowed on team facilities and cannot represent the club at any team or league event. He will be indefinitely removed from all league committees and must pay a $1.5 million fine.
In a statement, Goodell said White had found tampering violations of “unprecedented scope and severity.” He added: “I am not aware of any previous case where ownership has been so directly involved in the breaches.”
The findings came after a six-month investigation that began after Flores’ lawsuit was filed in federal court. The substance of the lawsuit included allegations that the league and its teams had set up fake interviews with Flores and other coaches of color to circumvent rules requiring teams to interview a diverse set of candidates for top jobs.
But the lawsuit, which is still pending, also included allegations against Ross, who fired Flores after the 2021 season after three years on the job. Flores claimed Ross tried to bribe him to miss games and circumvented the league’s ban on talking to other players and coaches under contract without their teams’ permission.
The Dolphins were found to have had impermissible communications with Brady during the 2019 season and postseason while he was playing for the New England Patriots. These communications were said to be “numerous and detailed”. It was found that the Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Brady and his agent in the 2021 season while he was playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including discussions about Brady becoming a Dolphins affiliate.
It also found that the Dolphins improperly tried to lure Payton to become the team’s head coach in January while he was still the head coach of the New Orleans Saints.