Damning claims against Miami Dolphins’ Stephen Ross in Brian Flores lawsuit

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is seen as one of the most controversial individuals in that position around the National Football League.

More than anything, his hands-on approach has led to some major struggles in South Beach since Ross took over as owner from Wayne Huizenga back in 2008.

In the 14 seasons since, Miami has earned all of two playoff appearances.

Despite seeing Brian Flores lead the team to two consecutive winning seasons, Ross and Co. fired the former head coach last month. It threw the NFL world for a loop.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Stephen Ross is back in the news again.

Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, Giants, Broncos and other unnamed teams in the United States District Court of Southern New York on Tuesday — claiming systemic racism in the hiring process.

While a lot of the focus will turn to the Giants’ alleged role in the lawsuit, there’s a lot to look at here when it comes to Mr. Ross. That includes multiple damning allegations.

Stephen Ross under microscope after Brian Flores’ lawsuit

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross
Jan 9, 2016; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross addresses reporters during a press conference at Doctors Hospital Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Flores, 40, claimed in the suit that Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss during the 2019 NFL season so that the Dolphins could get the No. 1 pick in the following year’s draft. Allegedly, Ross was mad that they kept on winning.

Miami finished Flores’ first season with a 5-11 record after winning three of its final five games. That led to the Dolphins picking No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, ultimately selecting former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. It’s the same draft that saw Cincinnati Bengals franchise quarterback Joe Burrow go first overall.

In an interesting twist, it was reported late last month that Miami offered three first-round picks for the right to trade up to the top selection for Burrow. With Stephen Ross calling the shots in South Beach, this doesn’t seem to be a mere coincidence.

Even more damning than going full Cleveland Indians owner from “Major League,” the suit claims that Ross wanted Flores to meet with an unnamed big-name quarterback early during the 2020 calendar year who was still under contract with another team. Flores initially rejected, rightfully claiming that it violated NFL tampering rules. Despite this, Ross set up a meeting between Flores and the quarterback — at which point Flores again declined.

“After the end of the 2019 season, Mr. Ross began to pressure Mr. Flores to recruit a prominent quarterback in violation of league tampering rules. Mr. Flores repeatedly refused to comply with these improper directives.

Undeterred, in the winter of 2020, Mr. Ross invited Mr. Flores onto a yacht for lunch. Shortly after he arrived, Mr. Ross told Mr. Flores that the prominent quarterback was ‘conveniently’ arriving at the marina. Obviously, Mr. Ross had attempted to ‘set up” a purportedly impromptu meeting between Mr. Flores and the prominent quarterback. Mr. Flores refused the meeting and left the yacht immediately. After the incident, Mr. Flores was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.”

Brian Flores lawsuit against NFL, multiple teams (February 1, 2022)

Obviously, this could get Ross in hot water with the NFL. If the league deems that he did violate tampering rules, a fine and the loss of draft picks will likely be in the cards.

Related: Mike McDaniel favored to be next Miami Dolphins head coach

It’s not known who the prominent quarterback was. However, suggestions later on Tuesday indicated that it was not Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson. He had been linked to the Dolphins since requesting a trade early last year. The timeline doesn’t fit in that regard.

One player who was set to become a free agent in March of 2020 was recently-retired future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was still under contract with the Patriots during the winter of 2020, as the NFL legal tampering period didn’t start until March of that year. As for the identity of the unnamed quarterback, it’s all speculation at this point.

Either way, Stephen Ross could be in trouble on multiple front here. He’s been an enigmatic figure in South Beach and around the NFL. That’s not going to change any time soon.

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