The Miami Dolphins wanted Tom Brady, Brady wanted the Dolphins, and Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the team blew up the mutual lawsuit. This is the alleged scenario now in play, finally offering a credible decryption of the Why behind Brady’s confusing six-week retirement this offseason.
Back on our March 31 episode of “You Pod To Win The Game,” we offered up the timeline of events and what likely prompted Brady to suddenly reverse the field of his retirement. Within that time, we named the Flores litigation as the agent of change that had been missed. Until then, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio had already started posting reports of Brady trying to reach the Dolphins. And last week the storyline was fleshed out by a number of outlets – including a report in the Boston Globe that provided alleged details about the rise and fall of the Brady-to-Miami project.
Everything is fascinating. But it’s also still a bit incomplete, because there’s a significant hole that needs to be taken care of. A specific question that should be of particular interest to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Brady were to build a backdoor strategy to make him Miami’s starter in 2022 – first having him ‘retire’ from the Bucs to become a Miami executive, then eventually forcing a trading in player rights – how does such an elaborate plan come together without a staggering amount of tampering?
The curious minds inside the league office should want to know. Even if it means going through Brady’s cell phone records again.
Because the way it’s reported, a fake Brady retirement was the first step in the plan, and that alone suggests it was hatched while he was still a member of the Buccaneers. There’s no way to do that unless Brady or someone acting on his behalf is actively involved in tampering with Miami. Which should be generally problematic, given that owners tend to frown on other owners who poach their star players.
Let’s not forget that this isn’t even the first suggestion that Ross has altered this offseason, nor the first suggestion that he has altered Brady. The first case came from the Flores lawsuit, which alleges Ross tried to reunite his former head coach with an unnamed quarterback on his yacht in Miami in 2020. That quarterback was later to be Brady.
This should lead to more than a few questions for the league. Among them:
Is the first allegation of tampering legitimate? If so, has it ever stopped? If recent reports are accurate and Brady was part of a Dolphins move, how directly involved was he and how far did he go? And did the Buccaneers ever know or suspect anything of what was going on?
Getting those answers should be important if the league plans to at least hold franchises accountable for tampering. Especially when the Buccaneers aren’t able to air out Miami, given that it could indict Brady in the process. Now that he’s back in the fold, it makes little sense for Tampa Bay to push that issue, though the Buccaneers should have some animosity toward Ross for what allegedly took place.
Of course, there’s also a catch-22 buried in any Ross investigation. If the league finds tampering in 2020, that proves part of Flores’ lawsuit. And if the NFL further finds recent reports to be correct about building a Brady plan in Miami, it could prove that Ross also broke the Rooney Rule in a Sean Payton lawsuit. Because there is no middle ground here. If Brady and Payton were coming, that means Miami had not only fiddled with a quarterback, but picked a head coach from the start. The latter echoes Mike Mularkey’s ‘fake hiring process’ allegation against the Tennessee Titans, which was added to the most recent amended version of the Flores lawsuit when Ray Horton and Steve Wilks joined. as plaintiffs.
Add it all up and it equals a space where the NFL would work both for and against its own interests. But the question boils down to what would ultimately stink more for the league: a blatant tampering between an NFL owner and the most iconic player in history, or the lack of a serious investigation into one or more of them. ‘other.