NFL suspends and fines Dolphins owner, strips team of two draft picks

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The NFL has suspended and fined Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and stripped the team of two draft picks for violating league policies governing the integrity of the game, the league announced Tuesday.

Ross was suspended until Oct. 17 and removed from all NFL committees. He was fined $1.5 million, the league said. The Dolphins lose their first-round pick in next year’s draft and a third-round pick in 2024.

The penalties stem from the league’s investigation into the tampering and diversion allegations, which was led by Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor and chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation began after former Miami coach Brian Flores accused the Dolphins in his racial profiling lawsuit against the NFL and teams of offering him $100,000 for losing games during the 2019 season in an attempt to improve draft positioning. .

Mary Jo White to lead NFL investigation into Dolphins tanking allegations

The investigation found that the Dolphins “had impermissible communications” with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019 and 2020 while he was under contract with the New England Patriots. The team also had unauthorized communications with Brady and his agent, Don Yee, during and after the 2021 season, which the quarterback spent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with Yee in January 2022 regarding a training client. Sean Payton told the NFL.

“Investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “I am not aware of any previous case of a team violating the ban on manipulating both a head coach and a star player, to the potential detriment of many other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I am not aware of any previous case where property has been so directly involved in the violations.”

The investigation found that the Dolphins “did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season,” the NFL said.

“Every club is expected to make a good faith effort to win every game,” Goodell said. “The integrity of the game and the public’s trust in professional football demand no less. An owner or senior executive must understand the weight of their words and the risk that a comment will be taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intention 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 misconstrued and carry 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 letting any comment about the relative importance of draft position affect his commitment to winning throughout the season.”

The Dolphins released a written statement from Ross on Tuesday afternoon.

“The independent investigation cleared our organization of any issues related to tanking and everything related to Brian Flores.[’s] other allegations,” Ross said in the statement. “As I have said all along, these accusations were false, malicious, and defamatory, and this issue is now resolved. Regarding the manipulation, I totally disagree with the conclusions and the punishment. 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 won’t let anything get in the way of that.”

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