Stephen Ross stepped up to the plate in his first off-season as the full owner of the Miami Dolphins. He missed on his first swing when he took a short stab at a pitch to Bill Cowher. He then dusted off his cleats and swung and missed at a pitch to Jon Gruden. Then taking a couple of foul bowls as he flirted with a home run from a pitch to Jim Harbaugh, he finally swung and missed. Walking back to the dugout to explain to his head coach why he had finally chosen him to stay afterall.
Is the above a joke? Absolutely. The reference is tongue in cheek, the events of the last week are not.
Stephen Ross left Sparano hanging for four days while he courted “better options” to lead the team. He tossed more money at a college coach than any other owner in the history of the NFL…supposedly, and he turned them down. With a 2010 season still fresh in the minds of fans, Ross can expect an exodus of fans from his stadium this fall. IF there is a a league at all.
Fans don’t know what or how to feel. There is a complete lack of faith in this team and it’s management group. And that…will not…sell seats.
About 2 months ago, Stephen Ross proclaimed that Carl Peterson would not be a member of the Miami Dolphins. Yet there he was, saddled up against Ross and Ireland on a private jet wooing Harbaugh. He has become the little voice in Ross’ ear and yet the team has made no official announcement of his staffing.
Ross wants to fill the stadium. He wants it to be like New York, Buffalo, and New England where the crowd is as much a part of the team as the team on the field. Yet it’s his indecision and not his decision that has stirred up a hornets nest. Let’s make one thing very certain here.
This is not about Tony Sparano.
This is about how Ross handled this situation.
Go back to Monday when Ross sat down with Sparano for his meeting with the embattled HC. Ross walks out and says Tony is my guy, fans would gripe but it would have been handled and the focus would have been on improving the offense. Ross walks out and fires Sparano and his misses at landing top NFL coaches would have been met with cheers of trying to improve the team. He would have been admired for his tenacity.
Instead, we got this.
Fans have wanted the national media to stop ignoring their team. They did that this week. The negative press all but kicked the life out of the fan base that was already reeling from yet another poor season. They wanted answers, action, but most of all they wanted to see something in their owner that they could trust and believe in. They instead got the appearance of dazed and confused.
Ross may still turn out to be a great owner that will be endeared by fans. It’s his first step into this territory, ever, and he failed in his approach more than the outcome. Tony Sparano may become a fantastic 20 year HC that takes the team to mulitple Super Bowls, but he officially becomes a lame duck coach regardless of whether Ross gives him an extension which is likely.
Another poor season, which should be expected, will cost Sparano his job. Doesn’t matter if he has one, two, or three years left on it. Ross will have to pay regardless. He messed up.
Today, fans come to the realization that their team, our team, doesn’t have a lot pegs to hang a hat on. In the next few months, they may come to the realization that paying $4,000 for season tickets can be better spent elsewhere, or the 300 for NFL Sunday Ticket can go to the wife on a shopping spree. That’s the kind of week this has been. Ross isn’t the only one making decisions now.