TAMPA, Fla. – You pay a steep price for tampering with Tom Brady.
The NFL on Tuesday sacked Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross with a $1.5 million fine, a couple of future draft picks, and a suspension for an elaborate scheme to bring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ future Hall of Fame quarterback to South Florida.
As The Washington Times reported, the Dolphins had periodic “impermissible communications” with Brady between August 2019, when he still led the New England Patriots, until the 2021 postseason, after Brady’s second season with the Bucs.
The NFL said its investigation revealed Ross hatched a plan to have Brady become part-owner of his team and a front-office executive, and possibly its quarterback.
The problem for Ross was that Brady remained under contract to the Pats and Bucs during the entire time of the wrongful talks.
The alleged plot also included Ross bringing New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to Miami as the new Dolphins coach. Payton, too, was under contract in New Orleans.
Often-maligned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement that called the Dolphins actions “unprecedented,” given their scope and severity.
“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,” said Goodell. “Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”
According to the Times, the NFL launched its probe of Ross and his team after former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the team and the NFL. Among allegations that the league uses “racist” hiring practices for coaches, Flores, who is black, also claimed Ross offered him $100,000 a game in 2019 to throw games in order to improve the team’s position in the draft.
The NFL found no evidence of that assertion, saying Ross’ supposed comment about a six-figure bounty to lose “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.”
Besides hitting Ross with the fine, the NFL is forcing him to stay away from the Dolphins until mid-October and stripped Miami of a first-round pick next year and a third-round pick in 2024..
Dolphins Vice Chairman Bruce Beal also was fined $500,000.
Bucs fans recall that Brady, winner of seven Super Bowls and owner of numerous NFL records, briefly retired from the NFL in February but then returned 40 days later. He is in the final season of his contract with the Bucs.