The NFL suspended Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross and snatched two draft picks after an investigator found the team violated the league’s anti-tampering policy by trying to lure quarterback Tom Brady and manager. Sean Payton in Miami.
At the same time, the investigator, former US Attorney Mary Jo White, found no evidence that Ross ordered former team manager Brian Flores to deliberately lose games to improve his college draft position. a claim by Flores made in a federal lawsuit in February, a month after the Dolphins fired him.
White ruled that Ross’s offer to pay Flores $ 100,000 for every game lost by the Dolphins – one of the most incendiary claims in his lawsuit – “was not intended or considered a serious offer, nor was the argument pursued in any way. way from Mr. Ross. or anyone else at the club.
Due to the tampering allegation, however, the Dolphins will lose their first round pick in 2023 and their third round pick in 2024. Ross will be suspended until 10 October. 17. he will not be admitted to the team facilities and will not be able to represent the club in any team or league event. He will be removed from all league committees indefinitely and will have to pay a $ 1.5 million fine. Ross served on three powerful committees: media, finance, and gambling.
In a statement, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said White found tampering violations “of unprecedented scale and gravity.” He added: “I don’t know of any previous case where the property was so directly involved in the violations.”
Understand the recent NFL controversies
Deshaun Watson’s suspension. The quarterback, who was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massages, was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Two grand juries in Texas refused to indict Watson, who later reached a settlement in all 24 cases against him but one. But a Times investigation showed that Watson may have engaged in more questionable behavior than previously known.
The findings came after a six-month investigation began after Flores filed his lawsuit. It included allegations that the league and its teams had arranged bogus interviews with Flores and other black coaches to circumvent rules that required teams to interview a diverse set of candidates for the best job offers.
Flores quoted text messages from New England Patriots manager Bill Belichick, who appeared to congratulate Flores on getting the job as a Giants coach, for which he had yet to interview. Flores responded by asking if Belichick meant the message for another Brian – Brian Daboll – and Belichick acknowledged that he did. Daboll, who is white, landed the position with the Giants, leading Flores to conclude that the Giants had made their decision before Flores was even interviewed.
Flores’s lawsuit, still pending, also included charges against Ross, who fired Flores after the 2021 season after three years as head coach of the Dolphins. Flores Ross said he tried to bribe him into losing games and bypassed the league’s ban on talking to other contract players and coaches without permission from their teams.
The league found that the Dolphins had inadmissible communications with Brady during the 2019 season and the postseason, while playing for the Patriots. Those communications were said to be “numerous and detailed”. It turned out that the Dolphins had again made improper contact with Brady and his agent of him in the 2021 season, while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including discussions that Brady had become a partner of the Dolphins.
It was also discovered that the Dolphins had improperly attempted to lure Payton to be the team’s manager in January while he was still manager of the New Orleans Saints.
“As for the tampering, I totally disagree with the conclusions and the punishment,” Ross said in a statement. “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 winning season.”
Numerous owners have been fined over the years by the NFL, although suspensions are less common. Among them were Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. of the San Francisco 49ers, suspended for the 1999 season after pleading guilty to a crime related to river casino licensing in Louisiana, and Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts, suspended for six games. in 2014 after a guilty plea for driving with disabilities.
Last year, the NFL fined the Washington Football Team $ 10 million after an investigation into a sexual harassment club culture. The owner, Daniel Snyder, retired from day to day club activities until mid-October.
Victor Mather contributed reportage.