Tom Brady escapes punishment in Dolphins scandal: Here’s why NFL won’t penalize QB for tampering

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The NFL released his investigation report in the Miami Dolphins Tuesday and although Tom Brady was a key figure in the report, he will not be punished for the role he played.

The NFL has already told several media that Brady will face no penalty. It had been wondered if Brady would be punished after the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross were hammered by the league.

After investigating for seven months, the NFL found that the Dolphins tampered with contacting Brady on TWICE occasions while he was under contract with another team.

Here’s what the league’s investigation revealed:

  • The Dolphins had inadmissible communications with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019-20 while he was under contract with the New England Patriots. These communications began as early as August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and playoffs. These extensive and detailed discussions were led by Mr. Beal, who in turn kept Mr. Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Mr. Brady.
  • The Dolphins again had prohibited communications with Mr. Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These talks began no later than early December 2021 and focused on Mr. Brady becoming a limited partner of the Dolphins and possibly as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility that he plays for the Dolphins. Messrs. Ross and Beal both actively participated in these discussions.
  • In January 2022, the Dolphins had prohibited communications with Don Yee, the agent of New Orleans Saints‘ Head Coach Sean Payton on Mr. Payton’s appointment as Miami’s head coach. Miami did not seek New Orleans’ consent to have those discussions, which took place before Coach Payton announced his decision to retire as Saints head coach. Following this announcement, Miami requested permission to speak to Coach Payton for the first time, which New Orleans refused to grant.

The NFL also announced that Sean Payton will face no penalties. On the other hand, the Dolphins have been nailed by the NFL: they’ve been docked to two draft picks (2023 first-round and 2024 third-round), Ross has been fined $1.5 million, and he’s been also been suspended until October 17.

As for Brady, the reason he’s not being punished is because the NFL’s anti-tampering policy requires teams to report any outside tampering. Basically, the team doing the tampering can be punished, but not the player. If the Dolphins contacted Brady first, they were the ones tampering with it. On the other hand, if Brady reached out first, the Dolphins were supposed to report it to the NFL.

Here is the exact wording of the rule of the league’s anti-tampering policy:

“If a club is contacted by a player (or his representative) who is under contract or whose negotiating rights are held by another club, and that player has not been authorized to negotiate with other clubs, or that such player is not in an authorized negotiation period under a collective agreement in force, the contacted club is prohibited from (i) negotiating with the player or his agent; (ii) discussing, even in terms the player’s possible employment with the contacted club; or (iii) discuss the player’s contract or his potential or ongoing contract negotiations with his current club.”

If Brady contacted the Dolphins, he had no responsibility to report that a conversation had taken place, which is why he will not be punished. As for the Dolphins, they clearly didn’t follow the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, which is why the NFL hit them so hard.

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