Assistant says guidance to lose games in 2019 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross never made it to the field

Miami – While an NFL-backed investigation found Dolphins owner Stephen Ross believed the team’s draft position should take precedence over winning games in 2019, those beliefs didn’t make it onto the football field.

Dolphin’s running coach Eric Studesville, who has held that title since 2018, said the team’s guidance during the 2019 season has not been questioned to the best of his knowledge.

“from top to down , [the goal was] “To win football games and get ready and ready to go — that’s always been the case,” Studesville said Wednesday. “That’s how I think about this game. That’s what we do, that’s what I owe to the game, every time we get a chance to compete, we do our best. There was nothing other than what was expressed to us or to me.”

In February, former Dolphins coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and Dolphin, alleging racism in the league’s hiring practices. In the lawsuit, Flores alleges that Ross tried to motivate him to “tank” or intentionally lose games, shortly after he was hired in 2019, with Ross allegedly offering Flores $100,000 for each loss that season. Flores says that with the team winning games late in the season, Dolphins general manager Chris Greer told him that Ross was “furious” because success on the pitch was a “compromise”. [the team’s] position project.

The NFL looked into these allegations as part of its aforementioned investigation but found no evidence that the team intentionally lost games during the 2019 season, however, the investigation found that Ross made comments to team president and CEO Tom Garfinkel, and general manager Chris Greer, and Senior Vice President Brandon Shore and Flores, said the team’s draft position should take priority over winning games. When Flores expressed his concerns in writing, it was assured that everyone wanted him to build a “winning culture in Miami” and Ross never commented on Flores again.

The investigation also found that Ross’ bid of $100,000 per loss, for which there were “various recollections of wording, timing and context… was not intended or considered a serious offer, and the matter was not pursued in any respect to Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.”

Studesville insisted that the letter to Flores did not reach the locker room.

“That’s just not how we wired,” he said. “None of that was ever shared.”

Besides the alleged tanks, the NFL investigated and found the Dolphins guilty of manipulating the quarterback Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. Ross and Vice President/Limited Partner Bruce Bell made “unauthorized contact” with both Brady and agent Don Yee in an effort to induce the two men to join the franchise.

Miami’s contact with Ye regarding Payton occurred prior to Payton’s retirement in January. Dolphins eventually hired former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel.

Dolphins coach John Embry, the assistant head coach, said the team didn’t feel the need to discuss it internally, as the indiscretions occurred prior to their arrival in South Florida.

“Nothing is said – control what you can control,” he said. “We weren’t here, some guys were here and some weren’t but at the end of the day it doesn’t change what we do in terms of how we work and what we do when we have an opponent on Sunday.

“Maybe I was my wife’s second choice,” he joked. “Being the first choice, the second choice, the third choice – it doesn’t matter. It’s about being where your feet are and taking advantage of the opportunity you are in and the current situation.”

Bill and Ross reached out to Brady about becoming a Limited Partner or CEO of Football with the Dolphins, though the possibility of playing for the team was also discussed. These talks occurred as recently as the end of the 2021 season and early in the 2019 season, when Brady was under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, respectively.

Dolphin quarterback Tua Tagoviloawho is entering his third season in the NFL, said he and his teammates discovered the NFL report after training on Tuesday, but did not feel that his place with the team was any less secure.

“I came in 2020, so whatever happens in 2019, I can’t even talk about it,” he said Wednesday. “So I was here in 2020, I’m still here and I’m lucky to be here. If it comes to support from the team. I think the whole team is with me and all the players we have right now.”

The NFL suspended Ross for six games and fined him $1.5 million, while Bell was fined $500,000 and banned from attending any league meeting for the entire 2022 season. The Dolphins were also stripped of first-round picks in 2023 and third-round picks in 2024. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described Ross’ level of participation, as well as the scale and severity of the dolphins’ frolicking as “unprecedented.”