After accusations had been levied surrounding both tampering and intentionally losing games, the NFL started an investigation into the Miami Dolphins, Owner Stephen Ross and Vice Chairman Bruce Beal.
On Tuesday morning, the NFL announced its findings which were first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
NFL stripped the Dolphins of their 2023 first-round draft pick and 2024 third-round pick for violating the integrity of the game.
Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross also suspended through Oct. 17 and fined $1.5 million.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 2, 2022
According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “Investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity. I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition of tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of other clubs, over a period of several years.”
Talks surrounding Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady were found to have begun as far back as 2019, and talks with then-New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton began in January. Payton is currently an employee of FOX Sports but is rumored to be eyeing a return to coaching in the coming year. Brady and Payton will not face discipline from the league for tampering. Current league rules do not punish players or coaches for participating in tampering.
While the NFL did find the Dolphins had instances of tampering with both Brady and Payton, they did not find any instances of intentionally tanking or instructing then-Head Coach Brian Flores to lose games. Flores asserted in a class-action lawsuit he’s bringing against the NFL alleging racial discrimination that Ross pressured him to tank in 2019.
Flores and his attorneys released the following statement after the decision:
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 2, 2022
The punishment for the Dolphins is severe: The team will forfeit their first-round selection in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024 as a result of the investigation.
Along with losing draft picks, Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is suspended from the team through October 17th, 2022, which is one day after Miami’s week six meeting against the Minnesota Vikings. Vice Chairman Bruce Beal has also been barred from league meetings for the duration of the 2022 NFL Season.
“Steve Ross should be ashamed and embarrassed,” said Joe Banner, a Former NFL Executive and Founder of The 33rd Team. “He didn’t just break a very basic rule that is fundamental to the fair operation of the league, he hit it with a nuclear bomb.”
Previously, the Kansas City Chiefs were stripped of a third-round pick in 2016 and a sixth-round pick in 2017 along with a fine for tampering with free agent WR Jeremy Maclin in 2015.
The investigation was led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White.
Tyler Forness contributed to this report.