Should the NFL explore possible Dolphins tampering with Tom Brady?

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Simms and I first talked about it on February 28. Since then, news of the Dolphins targeting both Sean Payton and Tom Brady in the weeks leading up to Brian Flores’ trial has slowly spread, with more people adding details to the report – even as the biggest points of sales covering the NFL (ESPN and NFL Network) completely ignored it.

History has lengthened the legs. More and more media and fans are waking up to it, even if the outlet that first reported it got lost in the gravy. (Twice on Wednesday, for example, I was asked what I thought of the Brady rumors in Miami.)

Here is a summary of the reports we have produced. The Dolphins wanted Brady and Payton. The Dolphins eventually admitted publicly that they called the Saints over Payton. The Dolphins privately acknowledge that they have had conversations about making Brady a minority owner. But for Flores’ lawsuit, he would have been named a minority owner as early as the week before the Super Bowl. Then the shot would have been made for Payton. Later that spring, Brady’s player rights would have been acquired by the Dolphins.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, who added to this wider reporting chain, raised a very good question. Should the NFL investigate the Dolphins for tampering with Brady?

The easy answer is absolutely yes. Many believe Brady is the unnamed quarterback in the Flores lawsuit that owner Stephen Ross wanted Flores to tamper with in 2020. If the Dolphins had a plan that started with Brady becoming a post-retirement minority owner and ended with Brady coming out of retirement to play for the team, there must have been one or more inadmissible communications between the Dolphins and/or Brady and/or his agent, Don Yee (who also represents Payton).

But here is the reality. The NFL rarely enforces tampering rules. Because everyone cheats. Sometimes, but not often, they nail someone for sending a message. If the league wanted to investigate the Dolphins for tampering with Brady, they easily could.

And the Buccaneers could easily make a tampering claim. The Dolphins’ defense would most likely include pointing out that the Buccaneers tampered with Brady in 2020. Because they certainly did.

Tampering is rampant in the NFL. The risk-reward calculation is always favorable to him, since the risk of getting caught is low. Hell, former Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians openly declared his interest in Brady while Brady was still under contract with the Patriots in 2020, and the league never said a word about it.

Surely the league realizes that it lacks the infrastructure to tamper with the police properly. Plus, the league probably isn’t inclined to see, again and again, that teams cheat so brazenly. While the NFL has ultimate responsibility for enforcing its rules, the NFL has ultimate responsibility for the resulting blemish on Big Shield that stems from instance after instance of teams being punished for breaking the rules.

So the league is looking the other way. Just like he did in the past. Just as he will with the evidence he would easily find if he were to investigate whether the Dolphins tampered with Brady.

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