Let’s face it, I’m about to piss off a good 80 percent of you. Miami Dolphins fans are clueless and don’t get it. Fans spend far too much time with conspiracy theories and reading the junk that certain local media idiots put on their sites to sell papers or achieve huge amounts of web hits. If a local guy says it’s so, wow, it must be so. Believe me, half of what some of them write are only done to get your panties in a bunch.
I’m about to do the same, but not for web hits. I’m going to do it to educate you. Why? Because apparently a lot of you need it.
Stephen Ross is not to blame for this mess. Does he share some of it? Yes, absolutely. So does everyone else from Mike Dee to the players and even to some extent the fans. He does not deserve the ridicule that he gets. Most of which is so unfounded that it is crazy. I go round and round and round about this with my cohorts on Finsradio every Wednesday night. So don’t worry, you can write a blog and run a site and still be clueless.
It’s natural to want to throw blame and let’s face it, the last decade for the Miami Dolphins fan base has been one exercise in futility after another. We went from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel in a long drawn out slow death. Like Boba Fett in the sarlacc pit. Digested slowly for a thousand years. (Always fun to toss in a Star Wars reference when you can).
History shows the dying of this franchise well. From overspending on players to trust in the wrong coaches to Wayne Huizenga throwing can’t pass up money to names instead of hungry up and comers. The resurrection of this franchise is tasked to it’s owner Stephen Ross. Something that Wayne Huizenga was unable to do despite his tiresome attempts. But why is Ross not to blame? Simple answer? He hasn’t been here long enough. Long answer? Keep reading.
I’m not going to bore you with opinion and unlike at least one of those local jar heads who feed you facts based off opinion, I won’t cloud the facts at all. They are here and it’s only your job to open your mind and realize that while blame will eventually sit on the shoulders of Stephen Ross in about three weeks, the current state of hatred for the man is unfounded and based on ignorance.
Most fans despise Ross for the Bill Parcells fiasco.
History lesson number 1: Bill Parcells was hired by Wayne Huizenga to a mega-contract that would pay him regardless of whether he decided to quit. The Dolphins were still in the 2007 Cam Cameron season. Parcells fired Cameron and GM Randy Mueller at seasons end. He hired Jeff Ireland, Tony Sparano, Dan Henning, and Paul Pasqualoni. All Bill Parcells protege’s.
History lesson number 2: One year after Bill Parcells joined the team, Huizenga announced that he was putting the team up for sale. Stephen Ross bought a minority stake in the team. Parcells stayed on board. Ross was the minority owner for one season and then bought out Wayne Huizenga as the team went from 11-5 to 7-9. This is where the hatred begins.
Ross still had Bill Parcells calling shots on the NFL side of things. He trusted him. Who wouldn’t? Parcells had a guaranteed contract regardless of what happens and if he chose to leave, Ross would be stuck with the bill, not Wayne. After speaking with Parcells, Parcells stayed and Ross began working on the entertainment side of the business. His goal? Simple, to make the game day festivities the best he could. He renovated portions of the stadium especially catering to the Club Level season ticket holders. Inside the stadium was transformed into a luxury space. He created seating to improve ticket sales and season ticket sales.
Outside the stadium he worked at turning a drab simple tailgate venue into a concert event. He signed on minority celebrity owners, ran an orange carpet into the stadium to create a “Hollywood” style walk of fame. He brought live music and activities to the stadium. Now, many fans look at this and get upset because they say that it took money away from the football operations and that is wrong.
Ross spent money on the stadium from the stadium and marketing side of the business. Bill Parcells had the ability to spend to the cap if he chose to. It’s a different fund and a different side of the business. Ross did what he could to get fans into the seats while Parcells was supposed to be doing what he was good at to get fans into the seats. Parcells failed. As a result, Ross did too.
UPDATE: It was pointed out to me by close friend Dave Kennedy that Stephen Ross guaranteed Parcells’ salary as a good faith gesture to remain with the team and fulfill his job. Parcells agreed and walked a year later.
History lesson 3: Parcells left a week before season three and Jeff Ireland was left to manage the team as eventually Parcells would not serve in an advisory role. He would for other teams however. Ross paid his contract and Parcells was gone. Last year Ross made his biggest mistake and one that still to this day haunts both professionally and personally and that was the Jim Harbaugh mistake. After which he had no choice but to do Sparano right by giving him another year and an extension.
Fans believe that Ross should go. The issue here is that Ross has yet to put his imprint on this team at all on the football side of things. He will at the end of this season with the firing of Tony Sparano. Maybe he goes hard after a Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden or maybe he heads for a Rob Chudzinski type. Who knows. What is known and what is fact, is that this will be the first Stephen Ross move on this side of the Miami Dolphins business fence.
There are other things that Ross is blamed for and while he could put his foot down and say no to any of them, he has trusted individuals who have a better sense of business on that side of the field.
A: The movement of 1:00 games to 4:00 in early September and October. This is something that Ross is blamed for but something he should only be held accountable for, for not saying no. The fact is that it was CEO Mike Dee who petitioned the NFL along with then President Bryan Weidemeier. The move was supposed to help local Miami fans have an easier time at the stadium on game day when the temperatures were high. Thus bringing more people into the stadium. Where Dee failed was that the team wasn’t winning. Winning get’s people into the seats and they won’t care what the heat index is if you give them a product that works. Again, that failure is the “Trifecta’s”.
B: Spending on the show and not the dough: Ross is blamed for the celebrity side-show that is the off-field stuff and as I covered above that is something that he should be doing. In fact, if this team was winning and competing, Ross would look like a genius with his foresight.
C: The “fight song”. Believe it or not, Ross is actually blamed for the use of the fight song being changed to the “Fins’ Up” Jimmy Buffet song. Let’s not forget that it was Wayne who first brought Buffet and Landshark Lager into the stadium and changed the fight song. I don’t fault Ross for not putting the old one back in as the primary. Why? Because I actually thing the new one is a lot more fun.
D: Keeping Jeff Ireland: Ross trust Ireland and to be honest, aside from a couple of missed free agents, his drafts have been solid. It’s easy to look at a team full of Karlos Dansby’s, Kevin Burnett’s, and Reggie Bush’s, and say how the hell can this team be that bad, but it very well may have always been the coaching. What we do know is that for the first three years Ireland was as much under the thumb of Parcells as Sparano was. Why else would Parcells consult with Dan Henning about Pat White instead of his self-appointed GM?
E: Tim Tebow Day: O.k. Florida Gator day at the stadium. Ross is blamed for this stupid decision. But here is the kicker. Mike Dee thought it would be good to reach out to local Gator fans who would come to the stadium, he failed by choosing the Denver game. Dee himself said that Tim Tebow wasn’t the starter so it wasn’t a big deal…I heard this first hand. The reality is Dee should have selected another date entirely. The fans would have still come. They would have rooted for former Gator Mike Pouncey instead. Dee had reached out to the “U” but was turned down as they wanted to have their own celebration, then they got bent of shape when Dee called the Gators. Ross really is not to blame here at all. He could have stomped his foot down and demanded another date but he didn’t, so what. Mike Dee was the mistake behind this mistake. For what it’s worth, Dee is responsible for the business side of the team and new stadium projects.
Ireland has made some mistakes, sure. He has made some rather off the cuff remarks as well. Yet he has not simply failed as a GM, yet. It’s hard to determine if the players on the field are as bad as they are because they lack talent and thus Ireland lacks the proper evaluation or if it’s because the head coach didn’t get it right. We will find that answer out as well very soon. In reality, Ireland has had one solid draft and has done well for his part in the others when he made the calls. He is aggressive. Moving to land Brandon Marshall shortly after Parcells left town. Evidence that his first move would be one that Parcells would never have made.
This is only the second full season for Jeff Ireland on his own and one of those seasons was a locked out off-season. Ireland is more reviled because of who brought him to Miami than for what he has or hasn’t done on the field. The reason I bring that up goes back to the subject at hand. Stephen Ross. Ross is blanketed in that same ire because he hasn’t removed every remaining nuance of Bill Parcells.
F: Told Ireland Not Spend Money: This is not true and is a fabrication based on a rumor perpetrated by a local reporter. The fact is and was always this. Ireland was told not to overspend on free agents who could not help this team win with a short off-season. He also told Ireland, according to rumor, that he would not pay the salary demands of Kyle Orton because he did not fell Orton was worth the money. At the outset of FA, Ireland went after DeAngelo Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw and pulled out due to apparent contract demands. He paid a lot for Bush but got away cheaper with Burnett and Moore.
G: The QB position. Stephen Ross has made it clear that next year he wants a franchise QB. He knows that the only way to right this ship is to get a future QB that will be here for the next 10 to 15 years. Maybe the swing and miss but I bet they swing. Last year, the Dolphins Jeff Ireland opted for Mike Pouncey over Andy Dalton, Kaepernick, and Mallet. Hard to disagree with the move so far. He also opted for Daniel Thomas over Mallett and again, hard to argue so far. Prior to that it was Parcells calling the shots and we got Pat White. Stephen Ross is not to blame for our QB woes, but maybe, as alluded to above he can be blamed, if you want, for not having Kyle Orton.
There is a perception and a reality. The reality is that Stephen Ross is finally, for the first time, about to put his fingerprint on this team. He may blow it just as Wayne did before him, or he may succeed. What is not deniable is that this is now his team. It’s not leftover’s from Bill Parcells. If Jeff Ireland is still here next season it is because Ross decided it was what was best for him and his football team. Not what the public believes. If Carl Peterson comes on board it’s because that is the with of Peterson and Ross and not because the fans don’t wish it.
Stephen Ross is not a stupid man. He is one of the richest men in the country and is far from frugal with how he spends it. He is not going to hinder the next HC by pulling tight the purse strings. He will allow Ireland or the man in charge to spend. He will encourage them to get a team on the field that will fill the stadium. Why? Because he wants to win. He wants the fans to go to the stadium and he knows that the only way he will make money is if that stadium is full on Sundays.
He also knows that no matter what he spends outside the stadium, only what happens on the field will bring the fans back in masses. Ross will have his share of blame over the course of the next few years. He will either bring in someone that will turn this team around or in three years fans will be calling for another head coach’s head to roll as well as the owners. Not now though. His imprint on this team hasn’t started. He has made one glaring mistake in his pursuit of Harbaugh and he has learned from it. He has fired the coach and will start looking for his next one the right way.
Stephen Ross does not deserve the garbage being thrown at him yet. He simply hasn’t done anything but relied on “football” people to make “football” decisions. He is about to find out of coaching or his GM, or both, is to blame. It’s his team now, it’s his responsibility to fix it. Blaming him for what has happened in the two short years that he has been the full owner is ignorant.
Now, I challenge you to tell me why Ross is to blame? Without the excuses that A: He kept Sparano this year, B: He still has Ireland on staff, C: He brought in celebrities, and D: He withheld money from Ireland to spend in free agency. Why is that you believe this team is the way it is because of Stephen Ross?