Related Cos.' Stephen Ross Fined, Suspended By NFL Over Dolphins' Tampering With Tom Brady
Related Cos. founder Stephen Ross and his top deputy in the Miami Dolphins organization were both fined and suspended by the National Football League after they were found to have violated the league's rules on tampering.
Ross owns the Dolphins, which bars him from having contact with players and coaches under contract with other teams. But in an investigation launched after Ross and the Dolphins were sued for racial discrimination by former coach Brian Flores, the NFL found that Ross had recruited superstar quarterback Tom Brady when he was a member of both the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The NFL announced Tuesday that Ross will be suspended from the team's facilities until Oct. 17 and fined $1.5M. The team will forfeit its first-round draft pick next year and a third-round pick in 2024.
Bruce Beal, the Dolphins' vice chairman and president of Related, was fined $500K and barred from league meetings for the 2022 season. The league's investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney and Securities and Exchange Commissioner Mary Jo White, found that the two made "impermissible contact" with Brady and Sean Payton, who was under contract as head coach of the New Orleans Saints. The two share an agent.
"The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "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 most explosive allegation of Flores' suit — that Ross offered him $100K in exchange for purposefully losing games to improve the team's draft position — was not conclusively confirmed or refuted by the investigation, but the NFL acknowledged that Ross commented on his preference that the team lose games in 2019.
"With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment," Ross said in a statement Tuesday. "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 not allow anything to get in the way of that."
Ross became the majority owner of the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium in 2009 after making his fortune in commercial real estate. Most notably, Related developed Time Warner Center (now Deutsche Bank Center) and Hudson Yards in Manhattan and is one of the largest owners of apartment properties in the country.