Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Responds to NFL Suspending Him Following Investigation Into Tampering Violations

The NFL has stripped the Miami Dolphins of draft picks and fined team owner Stephen Ross for violating the league's anti-tampering policy more than once.

A Miami Dolphins helmet on the field.

A Miami Dolphins helmet at AT&T Stadium.

A Miami Dolphins helmet on the field.

The NFL came down hard on the Miami Dolphins after a six-month investigation revealed the team violated the league’s anti-tampering policy on more than one occasion. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Dolphins will forfeit their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick after the league determined that team owner Stephen Ross and vice president and limited partner Bruce Beal had “impermissible communications” with Tom Brady and Don Yee, agent of Brady and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.  

Ross has been fined $1.5 million and suspended through Oct. 17. He will not be allowed to attend a league meeting prior to the annual meeting in March, and cannot enter the team facility or represent the team in any event until his suspension has concluded. Beal has been fined $500,000 and cannot partake in a league meeting for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Ross released the following statement after the punishments were announced: 

“The independent investigation cleared our organization on any issues related to tanking and all of Brian Flores other allegations,” Ross said. “As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and this issue is now put to rest. With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment. However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will no allow anything to get in the way of that.”

The league found that Beal spoke with Brady in 2019 while he was contractually tied to the New England Patriots, and Ross, along with other team executives, were informed of the particulars of those conversations. Beal and Ross were involved in discussions with Brady again in 2021, in which they discussed him possibly becoming a limited partner and a team executive. The seven-time Super Bowl champion was still a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the time of those talks. 

The Dolphins also spoke with Yee about making Payton their next head coach in January, without seeking approval from the Saints. 

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” NFL 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 league found no evidence supporting former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ claim that Ross incentivized losing games, allegedly offering $100,000 for every loss during the season.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said Brady will not be punished in wake of its findings.

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