I have yet another rant tonight, on the heels of my Deshaun Watson rant from last night, tonight I want to cover the news that broke today about Stephen Ross being found guilty of tampering with Sean Payton and tom Brady from 2019 through 2022, while Brady was still a member of the New England Patriots. This all stems from the lawsuit brought about by former Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores and his accusations of racist hiring practices in the NFL and that Ross encouraged him to “tank” to include a $100,000.00 incentive for each game the Dolphins lost. While the NFL did not find any evidence of the tanking accusations, they did find Ross guilty of the tampering charges.
From the Athletic:
- The Dolphins had impermissible communications with Brady in 2019-20, while he was under contract to the Patriots. Those communications began as early as Aug. 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and postseason. These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Beal, who in turn kept Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Brady.
- The Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Buccaneers. Those discussions began no later than early Dec. 2021 and focused on Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins. Both Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.
- In Jan. 2022, the Dolphins had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for Payton, about having Payton serve as Miami’s head coach. Miami did not seek consent from New Orleans to have these discussions, which occurred before Payton announced his decision to retire as head coach of the Saints. Following that announcement, Miami requested permission to speak to Payton for the first time, which New Orleans declined to grant.
This will cost the Dolphins a 1st round draft pick in 2023 and a third round pick in 2024. the penalty will also include a fine to Ross of $1.5 million and a suspension this season through October 17, which just so happens to be the day after Deshaun Watson comes off his 6 game suspension handed down by Judge Sue Robinson for his sexual misconduct charges. Ross can not attend any team function, be at the teams facility or represent the team in any capacity. In addition he can not attend any owners meetings until the annual meeting in 2023. Also caught up in the carnage is Dolphins vice chairman and limited partner Bruce Beal. Beal was fined $500,000.00 and also cant attend any owners meeting s for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Commissioner Roger Goodell called the violations “unprecedented in scope and severity”.
These violations triggered a statement by Flores as quoted by ESPN:
“I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true. At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’s offers and pressure to tank games especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at the time which the investigator has in her possession,” he said. “While the investigator found that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence. There is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game. When the integrity of the game is called into question, fans suffer, and football suffers.”
“The integrity of the game”… Give me a Fucking break…
So what Watson did doesn’t impact the integrity of the game? One of the most high-profile players in the NFL is indicated in over 25 incidents of sexual misconduct and assault, yet he gets a suspension that lasts one day LESS than an owner that went after arguably the best QB to ever play the game while still under contract, as well as going after one of the best head coaches in the game while HE was still under contract with the Saints. (the tampering occurred prior to Payton retiring) Flores also accused Ross of incentivizing him to tank games at $100,000.00 a game and at the end of the season got mad about the on-field success of the Dolphins and told Flores that winning was compromising the teams draft position.
The Double standard is amazing to me…
Despite all of this, I have seen media articles that state this punishment is a prequal of Roger Goodell appealing the sentence of Watson so that he can hand down a more severe sentence on him. the “unprecedented” portion of this issue is what he will use as a reason to go after Watson harshly, quite possibly a one-year suspension and a hefty fine.
From Touchdown Wire:
The NFL may get a lot of things wrong, but it rarely does things without a point. In this case, it could be that punishing Ross in this specific manner, and making note of the “unprecedented scope” of the tampering, sets the league up to go after a longer suspension of Watson on appeal, due to the unprecedented number of Watson’s alleged violations against the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. In her ruling, Judge Robinson spoke quite a bit to precedent, and more specifically, to “standards of fairness and consistency of treatment among players similarly situated.”
Thus, the six-game suspension, when the sheer number of Watson’s alleged violations would seem to engender a much more severe punishment. We know that the NFL wanted Watson suspended for at least the entire 2022 season, with conditions to his reinstatement in 2023. In settlement talks with the NFLPA, the league was willing to go as low as 12 games.
In the end, Watson’s representatives chose to bet on the ruling of an independent arbiter, and at first glance, they bet right. But the Ross suspension could well lead to the NFL’s right and ability to step into legal definitions of “unprecedented” that could lead to a much longer Watson suspension.
Stay tuned, this is only getting started…
Have a great night Nerds…
Join me and my cohosts @jongolson, @scubatexan, and Eliot “Big E” Lomba each and every Sunday night at 7:30 PM Eastern time for The Sports Nerds! 90 minutes of sports talk, trash talk, and laughs as we discuss the week in sports.