On one hand, tampering happens all the time in the NFL. On the other hand, quarterback Tom Brady has allowed himself to be tampered with brazenly and blatantly for four straight years.
As determined by the NFL, the Dolphins tampered with Brady in 2019. They tampered with Brady in 2020. They tampered with Brady in 2021. They tampered with Brady in 2022.
The ultimate source and cause of the tampering is Dolphins co-owner Bruce Beal. We flagged that relationship long ago. Consider this article from January 2020, regarding Brady possibly signing with the Dolphins: “Then there’s the Bruce Beal factor. The partner of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has an option to buy the team whenever Ross decides to sell it. Some believe Ross may decide to sell much sooner than later, with Beal buying the team and selling a sliver of it to Brady.”
Beal and Brady are close friends. Beal was the primary conduit when the Dolphins tampered with Brady while he played for the Patriots.
And Beal could be the reason it all blew up. As one league source told PFT, Beal had been telling his friends in New York City for more than a year about his efforts to bring Brady to the Dolphins. At a time when plenty of teams aren’t discreet about tampering, Beal most definitely was not.
For Brady, there’s no violation of the rules. No player can be disciplined for being tampered with. But he can be criticized by fans and media for it.
Brady, while playing for the Patriots, was talking to the Dolphins about playing for them. Then, while playing for the Buccaneers, he was at it again.
Again, he’s not the first nor the last. It would be naive to assume, for example, that the Broncos didn’t engage in technically impermissible communications with Russell Wilson‘s agent before being authorized to speak to Wilson, and the Packers complained in 2021 (probably accurately) that teams were tampering with Aaron Rodgers.
Yes, tampering happens all the time. For Brady specifically, it literally has happened all the time.
And it wasn’t just the Dolphins who tampered with him. The Buccaneers did in 2020; coach Bruce Arians admitted interest in Brady at the Scouting Combine, while he was still under contract with the Patriots. Surely, other teams talked to him and to agent Don Yee at that same time.
It’s one thing to do it after a season has ended. Being tampered with has a different feel when it happens while football season is happening.
For some Buccaneers fans, the timing may not matter. They may feel betrayed and/or lied to by Brady, who (as we suggested at the time) wasn’t retiring from football but retiring from the Buccaneers. When his path to Miami imploded due to the Brian Flores lawsuit, Brady ultimately decided to return to the Bucs, whose head coach coincidentally (eye roll) decided to step down after Brady came back.
Along the way, there was at least circumstantial evidence of Brady possibly going to the 49ers for a year, from coach Kyle Shanahan skipping the Scouting Combine to Brady visiting his parents that week in San Mateo to the Niners hiring that week former Brady college teammate Brian Griese as the team’s new quarterbacks coach. (Brady’s first choice in 2020, as Chris Simms has said, was the 49ers. They opted to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo.)
The broader point is this. Fans wants players to put team before all else. Plenty of players don’t and won’t. For Brady, team is often a means to an end. And the end is the pursuit of his favorite Super Bowl ring.
Also known as, the next one.