Dec 16, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross before a game between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins' Ross Sees Bus. Tosses Sparano Under It

The NFL Draft wrapped up yesterday and while the Miami Dolphins were making news with who they were taking, owner Stephen Ross took to radio to air out some of his teams issues a couple of years ago.  In other words, Stephen Ross threw his previous head coach, Tony Sparano, under the bus.

Ross was speaking with Dan Le Batard on 790 AM when he told the host that his former head coach “damaged the entire organization”.  Ross went on to say that following his flirtation with Jim Harbaugh while Sparano was still employed didn’t sit well with the coach.  While that is a right, Ross upped Sparano’s salary and tried to make amends.

Of course it was never really going to work out either way.  Sparano’s demeanor did change and the reality is that his disdain for Ross and Ireland was clear to see throughout the season.  It was reported that following a victory, Sparano refused to acknowledge Ross’ presence in the locker room and at one point walked past him without so much as a nod.

It was a change in attitude that I witnessed first hand.

Rewinding the calendar to Sparano’s first two seasons in Miami, Sparano came off as the New Yorker with an attitude and despite his attempts to be brash, he came off spirited.  On all three occasions of our web group meeting with the head coach, Sparano openly talked about his relationship with Ireland and how they worked together.  Year four took on a more serious tone and it was easy to see the stress in Sparano’s eyes.

During his fourth visit with us “webmasters”, Ireland had lost that slight edge of humor and in it’s place was a harsher tone.  Asked if the team would continue using the Wild Cat formation after the departure of Dan Henning, Sparano said it wasn’t likely.  One of our group members made a comment regarding that it was about time.  Sparano simply said, “Yeah, three years ago you called it genius”.  Not one shed of humor.

Sparano appeared worn out in only the second week of the season and it was clear that the off-season events had taken it’s toll on him.  It was an unfortunate mistake that happened to an otherwise good man.  The impact of Ross’ decision to include Jeff Ireland on his flight to California did nothing to smooth over the relationship between coach and GM.

Ross made a point that Sparano was never his appointed head coach.  He inherited Sparano a year after Bill Parcells was brought on board.  While it’s probably not a smart thing to do, blaming a bad season on a bitter coach, there was and is definite truth to his statements.  “I don’t think he was the right head coach for the Miami Dolphins”.  Ross further stated that Sparano couldn’t put it behind him.

In the end it really doesn’t matter.  Stephen Ross is the owner and can say whatever he likes and the reality is that in the four years that Sparano was the coach of the Dolphin, they didn’t win in three of them.  It’s also true that Sparano was a different person in his final season and the team did indeed suffer as a result of it.  Ross suffered as well.  His image took a hit so big that to this day he is still trying to correct it.

I personally don’t have a problem with what Ross said.  It’s the truth.  Sparano was a pro and acted like a child, if in fact all of this is indeed true which from what I saw was.   But then again, I agreed with Jeff Ireland calling a fan an “asshole”.


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  • Kevin

    I personally think anyone of us would be hurt if a good friend and supervisor/co-worker went somewhere to try to recruit someone to replace you at your job (like Ireland did to Sparano). I don’t blame Tony one bit for being upset about how Ross and Ireland did the back door crap to him. If I wasn’t a Dolphin fan I would want them to lose every game until Ross sold the team and Ireland was fired.

  • Darthjaye

    What an asshole. Sparano pulled us out of the gutter and made us viable for a year and might have been able to do more if the draft had been competent. Pat White was Parcells blunder and it hurt us badly. Also we took Vontae Davis who was a bust then. Daniel Thomas is also a bust. Sparano is responsible for some of the last few years woes but not most.

    • Chris

      I’d say CP10 did more of the pulling than Sparano did that year. Besides, I’d imagine most billionaires are assholes, so I don’t see it as being his fault.

  • Kevin

    I had very little respect for Ross to begin with and now have lost all respect for him after running his mouth about Sparano. Why did he feel the need to slam Tony? Let it go Ross!! Tony is gone. You need to keep your mouth shut. I know Tony wouldn’t stoop to your level and publicly run you down. I wish Tony nothing but success wherever he goes. I’d bet he’s damn glad he’s not in Miami anymore too.

  • Todd Weaver

    I was raised that if you can not say anything good then you probably should not say anything at all. Ross should have let this one go. Ireland/Ross have had a decent personnel off season. (though I still think we have infatuations with hurt people, seems every player has past or present injury problems) but Ireland and Ross have done more to hurt the Dolphins than any two men in the history of the organization. I look at our new logo and unifroms and cant help but not feel like this isn’t my Dolphins anymore. The unis look like a bland oiler uniform. As many will tell you uniforms dont win championships, but heritage and classy management build dynasties. Ross with this statement just shows he is not very smart or classy and us fans will pay a price for such misplaced statements. Philbin is not yet a proven commodity what happens when we want to get the next big coach or player. Sort of wish Ross would sell the team, not because he is cheap, but because he is not very smart. And a dumb man with a couple of billion dollars can ruin a classic franchise. This rebranding is as bad as when they tried to change the Coke Formula. Good old Wayne looks better and better each day.

    • Jeff Morris

      never knew there were dumb men with billions. The uniforms are more contemporary and needed updated from that 1960′s helmet on the Dolphin.Hopefully Philbin will make them all look smart. Ireland is doing much better and we got high grades from all the Draft Experts, so let the past go. We are headed to better days.

      • Todd Weaver

        Most people with billions pay people like me and you to solve their problems. Dont know if that makes them smart or fortunate. My grandfather always said its the first million you have to worry about. After that you just have to watch going overboard or getting caught in a bad market. I think their are a ton of people who have millions that are dumber than a door nail. And even more people who are as smart as Einstein who cant seem to make that million.

        As for the uniforms their were much better options. They did a mock with the Ellerbee logo full unis and logo and think the gear you could make with that logo would fly off the shelves.

        This new logo and uniform is lifeless have you seen the white hat with the new logo on it. It looks very uninspiring my 12 year old daughter even said it was horrible, so yes die hard fans will support the team we grew up on. But getting our kids to follow us is real hard with a crappy record and now a crappy uninspired gear. The unis look like the oilers not the Dolphins its the logo.

        • Todd Weaver

          I do think however Philbin has a ton of potential. But how long before Ross goofs it up with him also. Things look brighter on paper. Now lets hope Irelands luck with injured players turns around.

    • Miami Jules

      Hey there Todd (are you Buckeyedfinfan by any chance? If so, hello, I read your comments and posts all the time). I agree with most of what you expressed here. “Dumb and Dumber” brought the circus to town, dressed the players like clowns, got celebrity owners in to, in my opinion, boost ticket sales, perhaps thinking that those of us in town are more into “A” listers than actual football and our youngster can’t even name our QB as a result. Now, I must also give credit where credit is due, and they have turned it around, or at least now they mean well, and judging by an interview I watched on TV after the draft. Ireland virtually admitted that his record hasn’t been the best. That’s all I needed as a fan, an admission, however subtle, that he has been less than genius and I came away from that, wanting to support him and give him yet another chance, although I wasn’t overly excited about this draft either.

      • Miami Jules

        PS I just realized I had you confused with someone else… sorry about that Todd.

      • Todd Weaver

        Jules I think most of us came from the old Herald Forum in the good old days. I always go by Shula71. I am a buckey alum who is a fin fan from birth, but not Buckeyedfinfan. Think I remember him from the Herald. Been reading on this forum since Texmed came over from Herald. Just never registered. The Herald keeps locking things down so i have been slowly transitioning to this forum. A lot of good opinions from the old herald on here. I just dont have a ton of time to type my crazy thoughts on a ton of forums, I normally just throw a few out their and let people jump on or ignore them. Love our dolphins, my dad infected me with the virus.

        • Miami Jules

          It’s indeed a coincidence and a small world after all, that 2 guys named Todd from Ohio, also happen to be die hard Dolphins fans. You made a good point in your comment too.

  • Rob H

    When Don Shula left the Colts, their owner, Carroll Rosenbloom, said a lot of hurtful things about Shula that stung him deeply enough for Shula to worry about the comments and feel the need to address them in his autobiography. Shula went on to become probably the most respected coach of his time, leaving Rosenbloom with his ugly comments reflecting more on himself than on Shula.

    I find it unfortunate that Ross made those comments. I really like the direction the Dolphins are going, and respect Philbin more than any Dolphin coach since Shula, but Sparano gave it his best, his players loved him and wouldn’t quit on him, but in the end he was a little over his head. No need to throw him under the bus for that.

    • Larry Nones

      A little? How about way over his head? He certainly didn’t improve the team during his tenure.

  • Kevin

    We’d never land a BIG NAME coach as long as Ross is the owner. He has a bad reputation in league circles and it’s all because he can’t keep his mouth shut and he courts a coach before firing the current one. People don’t forget those things and think it’s totally classless. A big name coach wouldn’t want any part of an owner like that.

    • Jeff Morris

      WE DON’T NEED ONE. WE HAVE A GREAT COACH IN THE MAKING. Ross can’t be worse than Al Davis was or Jerry Jones, etc. These guys are passionate and sometimes they say what they feel. If that was your investment you would do the same. I think his statement about Sparano is spot on. He didn’t insult him he stated what Tony already knows.

  • Matthew J Bailey

    Ross is correct in everything he said, and dead wrong to have said them. Pointless and classless. I like the direction the team is going, and Philban was a great choice. Ross should focus on that and not make the organization look petty and bitter.