Miami Dolphins caught redhanded in tampering scandal, owner Stephen Ross fined and suspended

The Miami Dolphins are forfeiting their 2023 first-round pick along with a 2024 third-round pick in the National Football League Draft while team owner Stephen Ross was suspended and fined $1.5 million and vice chairman Bruce Beal fined $500,000 and banned from league meetings after the team was found to have violated the league’s policies on tampering. 

The punishment was handed out Tuesday providing a long-awaited conclusion in the NFL’s investigation into tampering and tanking allegations. The report released by the NFL stated that the organization violated league policies three times from 2019-2022.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The first offense began in August of 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season in which vice chairman Bruce Beal initiated talks (team owner Stephen Ross later joined) with the then New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady while he was still under contract. The talks regarded hopes that Brady would sign on to take the reins under center for Miami

The team proceeded to have more talks with Brady after this past season while he was still under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, this time the talks were less centered around Brady as a player and more geared towards bringing him on in an executive role with rumors of his retirement circulating. 

The third strike came in January of this year when Beal and Ross had “impermissible communications” with Sean Payton’s agent Don Yee in hopes Payton would be Miami’s new coach. These talks occurred before Payton’s retirement and were done without the consent of the New Orleans Saints who still had Payton under contract. 

Just as it does in baseball, three strikes mean you’re out, this remains true for Dolphins ownership, at least for the time being. Along with the loss of draft picks, Ross and Beal will be receiving their own punishments. Ross will be fined $1.5 million along with a suspension through October 17. Until then, Ross is prohibited from being in team facilities along with representing the team. As for Beal, he will be fined $500,000 and will be banned from league meetings through the 2022 season. 

The investigation into the team began six months prior after former team head coach Brian Flores made claims accusing ownership of wanting him to tank games during the 2019 season. Flores claims Ross even went as far as to offer him $100,000 for every loss. While the investigation found no evidence of that, the NFL’s statement reported that

“On a number of times throughout the 2019 season, Mr. Ross expressed his belief that the Dolphins’ position in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft should take priority over the team’s win-loss record.” 

In a statement released on Tuesday, Flores expressed his disappointment that his tanking allegations were not looked into more thoroughly:

“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.” 

As for Ross, the longtime owner conveyed his frustration with the league’s findings but said he will not fight it:

“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. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that,” Ross said. 

Miami is coming off an eventful offseason in which they added speedster receiver Tyreek Hill and hired former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniels to serve as the team’s head coach. The team has high expectations this year and will look to move past this story as soon as possible.

A current student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jordan grew up playing football. He began writing in high school after creating his own website and hopes to continue his pursuit for a career in sports media.