NFL suspends Dolphins owner for tampering with Sean Payton, Tom Brady
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE/AP) - The NFL has suspended Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and fined him $1.5 million for tampering with Sean Payton and Tom Brady following a six-month investigation stemming from Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against the league.
In his lawsuit against the NFL and several teams alleging racial discrimination in the hiring practices for head coaches, former Dolphins coach Flores alleged that Ross offered him $100,000 to lose games in 2019, his first season with the club, and tampered with Brady and Payton while they were under contract.
The league announced the findings of the investigation on Tuesday.
The investigation found the Dolphins did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season but the team had impermissible communication with Brady and his agent, Don Yee.
The league said the Dolphins also had “impermissible communications” with Yee, the agent for Payton, then the New Orleans Saints ' coach, about becoming Miami’s head coach in January 2022. Those discussions happened before Payton announced his retirement, the league said.
“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”
The Dolphins will forfeit a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and a third-round selection in the 2024 draft. Ross is suspended through Oct. 17.
Ross may not be present at the team’s facility and may not represent the club at any team or NFL event. He also may not attend any league meeting before the annual meeting in 2023, and he is removed from all league committees indefinitely.
Dolphins vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal was fined $500,000 and may not attend any league meeting for the remainder of the year.
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