New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick answered questions about the NFL's investigation into the Miami Dolphins' tampering with Tom Brady in true Belichickian fashion: With indifference.
When asked twice Wednesday about the NFL's decision to take two draft picks from the Dolphins – including the team's 2023 first-rounder – as well as fine and suspend owner Stephen Ross for "impermissible communications" with Brady while he was on the Patriots in 2019 (as well when he was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021), Belichick said he's "not really worried about that" and that he's only focused on training camp.
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) August 3, 2022
This response evoked Belichick's classic "We're on to Cincinnati" style of answering questions. Belichick doesn't ever seem to like looking to the past, especially when it involves scandals or controversies. And the Dolphins-Brady tampering investigation certainly can be categorized as both.
An independent investigation led by led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC chair Mary Jo White found the Dolphins talked with Brady twice between 2019-2021 when he was under contract with other clubs. The team also spoke with then-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton while he was still with the team.
"The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations."
Belichick's other connection to the investigation
Brady and the Patriots aren't the only reason Belichick is relevant to this case.
He also – indirectly or not – ignited the Brian Flores lawsuit against the Dolphins and the New York Giants when he accidentally texted Flores congratulations for getting the Giants' head coaching job when he meant to text Brian Daboll. That helped Flores launch his racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, the Giants and the Denver Broncos after the Dolphins fired him in 2022.
One aspect of that lawsuit has already been "resolved" in the eyes of the NFL after its investigation into the Dolphins. The league determined there was "no evidence" the Dolphins intentionally lost games in 2019 after Flores alleged Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for every game he lost to improve the team's draft stock and that any such comments were "not intended or taken to be a serious offer," per the investigation.
Ross felt vindicated by the findings of the investigation and issued a statement that attempted to further discredit Flores. The former Dolphins coach, meanwhile, released a statement where he said he felt "disrespected" by punishment and how the investigation "minimized" his allegations.
All the while, Belichick remains uninterested in being involved with anything having to do with Flores' lawsuit or the league's investigation.