What if I told you that gambling within the NFL is alive and well? You’d probably call me a liar and throw out names like Alex Karras, Paul Hornung and Art Schlichter—all people who have, at one time or another, been banned from playing for such a thing.
And while you’re correct that rules still prohibit players, NFL employees and referees from gambling, there’s still one job wagering it all in America’s most popular sport. Still don’t believe me? Just ask Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland about his $248.06 million gambling spree since February.
Statistics, like any other fact-telling tattle tale, show us that Ireland’s Dolphins have gone a dismal 20-28 since he took over former Dolphins president Bill Parcells’ role in 2010. And when you match four straight losing seasons with questionable interview practices and poor draft classes, you’ve got a man ready to pull out all the stops. That’s why Ireland has pushed all his chips to the center of the table, spending Stephen Ross’ money like it’s hot off the printers.
Ireland gave big money to the likes of Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler, Brent Grimes, Dustin Keller (now out for the season) and Brandon Gibson in the offseason, but he didn’t stop there. He also kept Brian Hartline, Randy Starks (franchise tag), Matt Moore, Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones in place. Though slightly inconsequential in terms of spending, Ireland even made a move up in the draft for Dion Jordan — a player with high-ceiling, high-bust potential.
Is it the regular wheeling and dealing of general managers or has Ireland decided to bet big in the face of uncertainty?
The truth is there’s always a few GMs that do this every year, and every year it’s a gamble. Ireland doesn’t know if Wallace will be the receiver Ryan Tannehill needs to take the next step. He doesn’t know if his overhauled defense will be enough to make them a top 5 unit. He also doesn’t know if letting Jake Long go and inserting Jonathan Martin at left tackle was the right decision.
He doesn’t know any of these things because, just like other GMs, he’s hoping that when all is said and done his bets will pay off.
When the Dolphins take the field against the Cleveland Browns on opening day this year, Ireland’s biggest wager will rest on the shoulders of Tannehill, a second year player. And without a larger number in the win column, one distinctly linked to the play of the quarterback and the new defense, Ireland’s chances of sticking with the team beyond this season are mighty slim.
Ireland better hope that Tannehill can be the ace up his sleeve that he so desperately needs.