To the delight of Bills fans everywhere, Tom Brady has found himself in hot water thanks to his involvement in the “Tampergate” scandal with the Miami Dolphins. “Tampergate” has led to the Miami Dolphins losing their 2023 first-round draft pick, along with a host of other consequences.  

Historically, there have only been three times ever where an NFL team was forced to give up their first-round draft picks. And you know what, something about each incident sure seems familiar…

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Tom Brady is connected to all three scandals that led to an NFL team losing their first-round picks.

What a coincidence! Or…not? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit all three times an NFL team lost their first-round picks, and how Tom Brady was involved (every time).

#3 “Spygate” - 2008

The first time an NFL team was punished by being stripped of their first-round draft picks happened in 2008. In this incident, the New England Patriots were accused of videotaping the signs given by New York Jets coaches during a game in 2007. The ensuing investigation revealed that videotaping signals were a common practice for the Patriots from 2002 through when they were caught in 2007. The NFL fined the team $250,000 and head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for his role in the scandal.

Although Tom Brady was never directly implicated in having a role in “Spygate,” he was the starting quarterback for the Patriots during the entirety of the time period they were accused of cheating.

#2 “Deflategate” - 2015

Now “Deflategate,” on the other hand, directly implicates Tom Brady. The second time the NFL penalized the Patriots was in 2015, after accusing them of deflating the footballs they used during the AFC championship game to make them easier to throw and catch during the rainy and windy weather. Along with being fined $1 million, the Patriots again lost their upcoming first-round draft pick for the 2016 season (as well as a fourth-round pick in 2017).

Tom Brady was personally punished by the NFL with a four-game suspension for his role in “Deflategate.” He appealed the decision, but eventually served his suspension during the 2016 season. Neither Brady nor the Patriots ever admitted any wrongdoing.

#1 “Tampergate” - 2022

This week, the Miami Dolphins became the second team in history to have their first-round draft picks stripped after being accused of wrong-doing. After a six-month investigation, the NFL found that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Vice Chairman Bruce Beal of violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The Dolphins allegedly had three conversations during the period of 2019 to 2022 that violated league policies set in place to keep the integrity of the game. Who were those conversations with? The agent of then-New Orleans Saints coach Sean Peyton, and yup…Tom Brady - while he was still under contract with New England.

As a result, the team lost two draft picks (their first-round in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024). Ross has been suspended through mid-October and fined $1.5 million, and Beal has been fined $500,000 and barred from attending league meetings for the rest of the season.

The NFL’s anti-tampering policy states:

"If a club is contacted by a player (or his representative) who is under contract to or whose negotiating rights are held by another club, and such player has not been given permission to negotiate with other clubs, or such player is not in a permissible negotiating period under the terms of an operative collective bargaining agreement, then the contacted club is prohibited from (i) negotiating with the player or his agent; (ii) discussing even in general terms the player's possible employment with the contacted club; or (iii) discussing the player's contract or his potential or ongoing contract negotiations with his current club."

Will Tom Brady be punished?

Unfortunately, nope. The league’s policy is meant to come down on the teams that do the tampering, not the players. Although Tom Brady did have conversations with the Dolphins that the team deemed inappropriate, he was not required to report them - so he won’t face any consequences.

Tom Brady, of course, has yet to (if ever) comment on the incident, and Bill Belichick did what Bill Belichick does and stayed mum.

Once again it looks like Tom Brady has escaped punishment for wrongdoing in the NFL. Again. Sigh.

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