The Miami Dolphins wanted Tom Brady, Brady wanted the Dolphins, and Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the team blew up the mutual pursuit. It is the alleged story that is now in play and which finally offers a credible decryption of Why behind Brady’s confusing six weeks of retirement this offseason.
Back in our episode of “You Pod To Win The Game” on March 31, we offered the timeline of events and what probably caused Brady to suddenly turn the field from his retirement. Within this timeline, we pointed to the Flores case as being the agent of change that had been missed. By then, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk had already started spreading reports about Brady trying to get to the Dolphins. And in the past week, the story has been deepened by a number of deals – most notably a report in the Boston Globe that filled in alleged details about the rise and fall of the proposed Brady-to-Miami scheme.
It’s all fascinating. But it is also still a bit incomplete because there is a significant gap that needs to be taken into account. A specific issue that should be of particular interest to the NFL and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If Dolphins owners Stephen Ross and Brady devised a backdoor strategy to make him Miami’s starter in 2022 – first getting him to “retire” from the Bucs to become a Miami director, and eventually forcing a trade in his player rights – how was such a complicated plan coming together without a staggering amount of manipulation?
Questioning minds inside the league’s office should want to know. Even if it means reviewing Brady’s cell phone records.
Because the way this is reported, a fake Brady retirement was the first step in the scheme, and that alone suggests that it was drafted while he was still a member of the Buccaneers. There’s no way to do that unless Brady or someone operating on his behalf is an active participant in Miami manipulation. Which in general should be problematic as owners tend to wrinkle the noses of other owners who poach their star players.
For the sake of not forgetting this, this is not even the first suggestion that Ross has fiddled with this offseason, nor the first suggestion that he has fiddled with Brady. The first instance came through Flores’ lawsuit, which claims that Ross tried to get his former head coach along with an unnamed quarterback on his yacht in Miami in 2020. This quarterback was later to be reported to be Brady.
That should lead to more than a few questions for the league. Among them:
Is the first allegation of manipulation legitimate? If it is, did it ever stop? If the latest reporting is correct and Brady was part of a Dolphins maneuver, how directly was he involved and how far back did it go? And did the Buccaneers ever know or suspect anything about what was going on?
It should be important to get these answers if the league plans to at least hold franchises responsible for manipulation. Especially when the Buccaneers are unable to air Miami out as it could appeal to Brady in the process. Now that he’s back in the fold, it does not make much sense for Tampa Bay to push that question forward, even if the Buccaneers should have something eager for Ross for what allegedly happened.
Of course, there is also a catch-22 buried in any study of Ross. If the league finds that there was manipulation in 2020, it proves part of the Flores case. And if the NFL further finds out that recent reports are correct that Miami constructed a Brady plan, it could prove that Ross also overturned the Rooney rule in a pursuit of Sean Payton. Because there is no middle ground here. If Brady and Payton were to come, it means that Miami had not only tampered with a quarterback, but sat down for a head coach from the start. The latter echoes Mike Mularkey’s “false hiring process” claim against the Tennessee Titans, which was added to the most recently amended version of the Flores case when Ray Horton and Steve Wilks joined as plaintiffs.
Put it all together, and that equates to a space where the NFL would work both for and against its own interests. But the question comes down to what would ultimately stink more for the league: overt manipulation between an NFL owner and the most iconic player in history, or the lack of any serious investigation into any of them.