News broke this week of Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, who attempted to recruit Tom Brady and Sean Payton while under contract. He was charged with tampering by the NFL, amidst other allegations. The result: lost draft picks, suspension, and a hefty fine.
The story begins when Tom Brady was a member of the New England Patriots and continues to December 2021 and early 2022 when Brady was trying to get the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to a second consecutive Super Bowl.
While Brady was game planning on how to beat the defenses of Carolina, Buffalo, and the New York Jets, Brady was also listening to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Ross was trying to woo Brady to Miami to possibly be the quarterback for the Miami Dolphins for the 2022 season and become part of the organization upon his retirement.
Bruce Beal, a friend of Brady’s and a member of the board of Brady’s health and fitness company TB12, initially reached out to Brady in 2019 as Brady was preparing for what would be his final season in New England.
During this time, Beal gave Stephen Ross and the Dolphins’ front office detailed information about what he and Brady discussed. It’s not right, and it does leave a bad taste in my mouth about Brady’s last season here. The fact that someone was in Brady’s ear telling him the grass was greener on the other side. This could’ve had significant implications on his desire to leave New England, and I’m not saying that he didn’t already want to go. We know there was tension, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to pressure that to get the GOAT to Miami. This isn’t the NBA tampering that isn’t running rampant everywhere. Even if it was the NBA, players were colluding, not owners and front office staff members.
The NFL investigation also revealed that the Dolphins had contact with Brady during 2021 and early 2022.
These talks focused on Brady possibly becoming a limited partner with the Dolphins and taking on a role as a football executive. However, the discussions also focused on Brady playing quarterback for the Dolphins.
It’s fair to assume that these tampering charges would not have even seen the light of day had former Miami head coach Brian Flores not filed a 58-page lawsuit alleging discrimination against Miami and three other NFL teams.
The story here is more than these conversations, even over multiple years. The league is trying to discourage the tanking allegations, but they didn’t want to open up a can of worms accusing them of tanking. Most people can see the tampering and punishment for tanking. The rest of the league should take notice because if it happens again, the consequences will worsen. The pressure on Flores and others around that organization to lose is ridiculous.
Flores also said he was under pressure to recruit a “prominent quarterback to Miami at the end of the 2019 season. We now know that “prominent quarterback” was Tom Brady.
Brady announced his retirement on February 1, 2022, less than two weeks after a crushing home loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Even though Brady was retired, the Bucs still owned his rights for another year, and if Miami wanted Brady to be their starting quarterback in 2022, they would have owed Tampa compensation or had to trade for Brady.
On March 13, Brady announced that he would be returning to the Buccaneers for his 23rd season to try to win another Super Bowl
At mini-camp in June, Brady was asked about his connection to the Dolphins. Specifically, how much interest there was on his part in taking his talents to South Beach. Brady did not address reports directly about his interest in joining the Miami organization but did say this.
“I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I am done playing football,” Brady said. “I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football. I think the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team. That has been my commitment to this team and organization.”
On August 2, the NFL released its findings of the tampering charges, and Roger Goodell issued this statement. “The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity. I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both the head coach (Sean Payton)and star player (Tom Brady) 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.”
As a result of the violations, the Dolphins have been stripped of their 2023 first-round pick. In addition, owner Stephen Ross is suspended until October 17. He was also banned from all league committees and fined $1.5 million.
The punishments that were given to the Dolphins and their owner seems fair, considering the Patriots lost a draft pick for “Deflatgate.” Any tampering with the league’s product is going to be harshly punished. The NFL will do anything to keep its on-field integrity of it intact because that’s what brings in all the fans. For the first time, the Patriots are the victims here.
They were doing things by the book as Ross and some Miami front office personnel tried to convince Brady to come down south. The funny thing is that he went down south and didn’t join Miami. He went to Tampa Bay, so all of this bad pr and loss of serious draft capital is for nothing to the Fins
The NFL announced that Brady would not face any discipline for the Dolphins tampering with him while a member of the Patriots and the Buccaneers.
“For me, the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team,” Brady said.
And that is on the practice field in Tampa, preparing for the 2022 season, which he hopes will end with another Super Bowl ring.