The NFL is coming down hard on the Miami Dolphins, docking the org. two draft picks, including a 1st-round selection, for tampering with quarterback Tom Brady, the league announced on Tuesday.
Team owner Stephen Ross was also suspended until mid-October, and fined $1.5 million!
After a six-month investigation, the NFL says they concluded the organization violated the Anti-Tampering Policy on three separate occasions ... twice with TB12, and once with then-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
"The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity," Commissioner Roger Goodellsaid.
"I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and a star player to the potential detriment of multiple clubs over a period of several years."
The investigation focused on whether team officials improperly attempted to communicate with Brady and Payton over a period of years. It also centered around a claim made by former head coach Brian Flores ... who says Ross incentivized him to lose, in an effort to get a higher draft pick.
The NFL found the Dolphins had "impermissible communications" in 2019-20 with TB12 when he was still a member of the Pats org. and in 2021 when he was Bucs QB.
According to the NFL, Ross and/or his business partner spoke with Brady and his agent, Don Yee, about the prospects of Tom becoming a minority owner of the Dolphins, and possibly playing for the team.
In 2022, the Dolphins again had forbidden communications with Yee, who also repped Payton, about bringing Sean on board as the team's head coach.
As for the allegations made by Flores, the league determined the Dolphins did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season, and no one instructed BF to lose.
Flores issued a strong statement following the NFL's ruling, slamming Goodell and the league.
"I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true," Flores wrote.
"At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’s offers and pressure to tank games, especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at the time, which the investigator has in her possession."
Meanwhile, Ross released a statement, saying ... "As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious, and defamatory, and this issue is now put to rest."
"With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment. However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season."
SR concluded by doubling down on his desire to win.
"I will not allow anything to get in the way of that."
All told, the Dolphins lose their 2023 1st-round pick and 2024 3rd-round pick. Ross is suspended until October 17, on top of the $1.5M fine. Vice Chairman Bruce Beal was fined $500K, and is banned from league meetings for the entire season.