NFL suspends Miami Dolphins owner, strips team of draft picks in probe tamper and tanks



CNN

The NFL has stripped the Miami Dolphins of two pistols, stood up and fined owner Stephen Ross after an investigation into allegations of tampering with tanks found that his team He had unauthorized contact with star quarterback Tom Brady and former Saints coach Sean Payton’s agent.

The investigation, led by former US attorney and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White and attorneys from the law firm Debevoise, found Dolphins violated anti-fraud rules on three occasions, The NFL announced in a press release Tuesday. The investigation also found that the team did not lose games on purpose, known as tanks, but noted that Ross had repeatedly suggested that the team prioritize draft standings over winning games during the 2019 season, the statement said.

As a penalty, the Dolphins will forfeit their first-round selection in the 2023 draft and third-round selection in the 2024 draft. The statement said Ross was suspended until October 17, six games in the 2022 season and a $1.5 million fine.

“In terms of manipulation, I strongly oppose conclusions and punishment,” Ross said in a statement posted to the Miami Dolphins Twitter account. “However, I will accept the result because the most important thing is that there are no distractions for our team as we start an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to stand in the way of that.”

The investigation found that Dolphins had “unauthorized contacts” with Brady in 2019-20 when he was a member of the New England Patriots and again during and after the 2021 season when he was under contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the NFL version. The investigation found that those second discussions focused on Brady “becoming a Dolphins Limited Partner and possibly serving as CEO of Football”, and also included the possibility of playing with Dolphins.

The association found that Dolphins Vice Chairman Bruce Bell led the call with Brady and fined him $500,000. The Dolphins had no comment when asked about Bell’s actions.

Furthermore, in January 2022, the Dolphins made “unauthorized contacts” with Payton’s agent, who at the time was the coach of the New Orleans Saints and have since retired.

“Investigators have found fraud violations of an unprecedented scale and severity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “I do not know of any previous case of a team violating the ban on tampering with both the coach and the star player, at the potential expense of several other clubs, over several years. Likewise, I do not know of any previous case in which the monarchy was directly involved in the violations.”

The investigation also examined whether the Dolphins deliberately lost games in the 2019 season to improve draft placement, known as tanks. The Dolphins eventually finished the 2019 season with a record 5-11 and earned a fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

An NFL investigation found that the team did not lose games on purpose and no members of the club, including Ross, directed then-Dolphins coach Brian Flores to lose games, according to the statement. However, the investigation found that Ross repeatedly expressed his belief that the team’s draft position should take precedence over the win-and-loss record.

in february, Flores told CNN that Ross told him openly He will give him $100,000 for every game Flores loses. Ross denied the accusations at the time, calling the allegations “unfounded, unfair and degrading.”

The investigation found that people had “different memories about the wording, timing and context” of the alleged show, according to an NFL press release.

“Whatever its wording, such a comment was not intended or considered a serious offer, and the matter was in no way pursued by Mr Ross or anyone else at the club,” the statement read.

Goodell said in a statement that the suspension, even if it was a joke, risks harming the integrity of the game.

“Every team is expected to make sincere efforts to win every match,” he said in a statement. “The integrity of the game and the public’s trust in professional football require nothing less. The owner or CEO must understand the weight that his words carry, and the risks that comment is taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intent or Expectation. Even if presented in jest and not intended to be taken seriously, comments that a draft position is more important than a win can be misunderstood and carry with it a potential unnecessary risk to the integrity of the game.”

praised Flores who was Launched earlier this year and sued Dolphins, the NFL And other teams alleging racial discrimination, to continue trying to win matches. The NFL and its teams denied the allegations.

“The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect coach Flores’ commitment to victory and the Dolphins’ race to win every game,” Goodell said. “Coach Flores deserves commendation for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of the recruiting position to affect his commitment to winning throughout the season.”

In a statement, Flores expressed disappointment in what he says is an NFL investigation that has played down Ross’ comments about tanks.

“I am grateful that the NFL investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross to be true,” Flores said. “At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator has played down Mr. Ross’ bids and pressure on tank games especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns on the subject while the investigator was in possession of it.”

His attorneys, Douglas H. Wigdor and John Eleftrakis, expressed similar disappointment in the investigation’s assessment of Ross’ comments.

“We are certainly disappointed that the Inquisitor, apparently the commissioner, has apologized for the highly inappropriate comments that go to the heart of the game’s integrity regarding tanks as a joke, especially when there was a letter that coach Flores wrote at the time to show the charisma with which this received comments by coach Flores,” they said in a statement.

“The punishment announced today is clearly insufficient and disheartening. Unfortunately, it is still clear that the NFL cannot restrain itself, which is why we look forward to continuing to advance the legal process, proving all of Brian’s allegations, as well as those of a class of Black executives, coaches, and candidates, forcing a change on the NFL.”

Meanwhile, Ross said in his statement that the investigation had cleared the dolphins from the tanks.

“The independent investigation has cleared our organization of any tank issues and all of Brian Flores’ other allegations,” he said. “As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and this case has now been terminated.”

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