NFL Suspends Team Owner for Tom Brady and Sean Payton Tampering

The NFL has completed its investigation of the Miami Dolphins for violations of NFL policies related to the integrity of the game. On Tuesday, the league released a statement that said the Dolphins had "impermissible communications" with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019-2020 when he was still under contract with the New England Patriots. The NFL also revealed that Miami had "impermissible communications" with Don Yee, the agent for New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton who was still under contract with the Saints in January 2022. The Dolphins' actions led to the NFL suspending team owner Stephen Ross through Oct. 17, one day after the team takes on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6 of the season. The Dolphins will also forfeit their first-round draft pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024. 

Additionally, the NFL investigated if the Dolphins intentionally lost games to get a high draft pick during the 2019 season. The league determined that Miami didn't intentionally lose games, but Ross "expressed his belief that the Dolphins' position in the upcoming 2020 draft should take priority over the team's win-loss record." Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores accused the team of bribing him to lose games shortly after being fired. The NFL said it could not support the claim that Flores made, which is he was offered $100,000 by Ross for every loss in 2019.

"Every club is expected to make a good faith effort to win every game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated. "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."

Once the NFL announced its findings, Ross responded to the punishment. "The independent investigation cleared our organization on any issues related to tanking and all of Brian Flores' other allegations," Ross said. "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."