The NFL has issued a ruling on the charges against the Miami Dolphins for violations of policies relating to the integrity of the game that include fines, a suspension, and the loss of draft picks.
An investigation was launched after the. Head coach Brian Flores filed a suit against the team for alleged racism and incentives to “tank” games”.
While the NFL found no sign of games purposely being lost, they did find three separate incidents of “tampering” – carrying on illegal conversations – involving quarterback To, Brady and then head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints.
While the Dolphins players avoid any punishment; the team will lose one of their first round draft picks in 2023 and a third round pick in 2024.
In addition, vice chairman limited partner Bruce Beal was fined $500,000 and cannot attend any league meetings for the remainder of the year.
The most severe punishment has been reserved for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross who has been fined $1,5 million, cannot attend any league meetings until the annual big owners meeting next March, and has been suspended until October 17 which includes not representing the team in any way or even being allowed at the Dolphins facility.
The NFL found no evidence of games being lost on purpose, but there are reports from several sources within the organization that the team owner was mad when the Dolphins pulled out a win and was overhead saying that draft pick position was more important than winning games.
What the NFL did find was that in his role as vice chairman Bruce Beal had improper conversations with Tom Brady – once while Brady was with the New England Patriots and again after he had moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One such conversation allegedly included discussions of partial ownership.
The third violation was a conversation with Sean Payton on becoming the Do
Pains head coach.
The parties involved in initiating these conversations did not seek person from the respective teams before talking to Brady or Payton.
Calling the violations unprecedented, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement saying, “the investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented 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. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”
An unhappy Brian Flores also spoke on the investigation and it’s outcome saying, “I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true. 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. While the investigator found that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence. There is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game. When the integrity of the game is called into question, fans suffer, and football suffers.”
Team owner Stephen Ross also issued a statement saying, “the independent investigation cleared our organization on any issues relating to tanking and all of Brian Flores’ other allegations. 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 us that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that.”
In relation to being paid for tanking games, the investigator did not believe it was a serious offer. Commissioner Goodell responded with, “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. Even if made in jest and not intended to be taken seriously, comments suggesting that draft position is more important than winning can be misunderstood and carry with them an unnecessary potential risk to the integrity of the game. The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to win and the Dolphins competed to win every game. 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.”
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