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After an investigation into the Miami Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross for allegations of tampering, the NFL announced on Tuesday that the league’s investigation “conclusively established violations of the Anti-Tampering Policy” on three different occasions.

  What the NFL found in their investigation of the Miami Dolphins: © Provided by Touchdown Wire

The NFL conducted an investigation into two subjects. First, whether the Dolphins violated NFL rules prohibiting tampering with a player and a coach under contract to other clubs. Second, the NFL examined whether, during the 2019 season, the team intentionally lost games to improve the team’s draft position, and whether owner Stephen Ross offered financial incentives to coaches to lose games.

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According to the investigation, the NFL found that the Dolphins had “impermissible communications” with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019 and 2020 when he was under contract with the New England Patriots. According to the NFL’s statement, the communications “began as early as August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season.”

The NFL also found that the Dolphins “again had impermissible communications with both Mr. Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” During these discussions, the focus was on “Mr. Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of playing for the Dolphins.”

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The third instance of tampering involved coach Sean Payton. According to the league, in 2022 the Dolphins “had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton, about having Mr. Payton serve as Miami’s head coach.” The NFL found that the Dolphins “did not seek consent from New Orleans to have these discussions, which occurred before Coach Payton announced his decision to retire as head coach of the Saints.”

The discipline imposed by the league on the organization is as follows:

The Dolphins will forfeit their first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft, and their third-round selection in 2024. Owner Stephen Ross is suspended through October 17, 2022. During this time he may not be present at the facility nor can he represent the club at any team or league event. Furthermore, he cannot attend any League meeting prior to the 2023 Annual Meeting, is removed from all committees indefinitely, and is fined $1.5 million. Bruce Beal, the team’s Vice Chairman and Limited Partner, is fined $500,000 and may not attend any League meeting this season.

In the statement, Commissioner Roger Goodell stated the following:

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I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.


Video: Pelissero: NFL suspending Stephen Ross, docking Dolphins draft picks due to 'impermissible contact' with Tom Brady, Sean Payton (NFL)

The NFL also investigated claims raised by former head coach Brian Flores. On those allegations, the league found that the Dolphins “did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season.” Furthermore, the league found that no one, including Ross, instructed Flores to lose games. However, the NFL’s investigation did confirm that comments were made by the owner expressing “his belief that the Dolphins’ position in the upcoming 2020 draft should take priority over the team’s win-loss record.”

The NFL also investigated a comment regarding an alleged offer by Ross to Flores of $100,000 to lose games. The league found that “there are differing recollections about the wording, timing and context. However phrased, such a comment was not intended or taken to be a serious offer, nor was the subject pursued in any respect by Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.”

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With respect to the tanking allegations, Commissioner Goodell stated the following:

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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. An owner or senior executive must understand the weight that his or her words carry, and the risk that a comment will be taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intent or expectation…Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season.

You can read the full report here:

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