Let that sink in slowly.
An assistant GM living in Cleveland declined a second interview for a job that offers more money and more power in Miami. With that, something is officially wrong with one of the NFL‘s most storied franchises.
The same Dolphins who once owned the league’s highest winning percentage in regular season games, who suffered a mere three (three!) losing seasons in a 35-year span from 1970-2005, who are the only team to ever finish an entire year without a loss and who once possessed one of the greatest coaches and quarterbacks the league has ever seen in Don Shula and Dan Marino are now the team some wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
Spin it how you want, but there is no way around the fact that Miami — beautiful weather, women and beaches along with a passionate fanbase, rich tradition and the potential answer at quarterback already in place — is one of the most unattractive destinations in the league at this moment in time.
Owner Stephen Ross should wear much of the blame.
For it’s the power structure Ross has assembled that reportedly scared away Farmer. John Wooten, who assists in helping minority candidates earn promotions around the league, even urged Farmer to attend a second interview to at least seek clarification.
“He has reservations about the structure of the Dolphins,” Wooten admitted to the media. “He’s not certain who would be running things, whether it would be him or someone else. I told him the only way you can find out is to take the second interview and get the answer.”
Farmer’s concerns with the Dolphins were so prevalent that not even Wooten’s advice prompted him to take that second interview. And Farmer isn’t the first candidate to reject Ross for an opening that should be considered a dream job to those who have paid their dues in NFL scouting departments. Eric DeCosta, Tom Gamble, George Paton and Scot McCloughan all told Ross “thanks but no thanks” to an initial interview.
Apparently, these candidates are uneasy about a structure in which the GM answers to Ross only but has no power over head coach Joe Philbin or Vice President of Football Administration Dawn Aponte. While many GMs around the league have authority over the coaching staff and front office department, it’s not necessarily abnormal to not have that luxury.
So, clearly there is a communication breakdown between Ross and these candidates. That isn’t surprising in the slightest when you consider a report that surfaced on Thursday night which revealed that Ross repeatedly called one candidate by the wrong name in an interview.
Even with the assistance of longtime friend and business associate Carl Peterson, Ross is unable to close on the candidates he wants. He’s always lacked the ability to do so — at least in Miami, where his expertise as a real estate tycoon hasn’t translated into the ability to be a respected NFL owner.
Despite flying cross-country in his private jet to meet with him, Ross wasn’t able to land Jim Harbaugh as coach. He couldn’t get free agent quarterback Peyton Manning to take the Dolphins seriously. And now, he has potentially been relegated to hiring the runt of the litter for GM. All of which led to embarrassment. All of which is on Ross.
Each of the team’s GM targets are of the unknown variety, so it’s unclear if the Dolphins missed big on Farmer or if Lake Dawson and Brian Gaine — the reported remaining finalists — are capable of becoming solid GMs. What is clear, though, is that the Dolphins are a damaged brand and in desperate need of good fortune to reverse the trend.
With that said, Ross should admit his mistakes and sell the team. It’s the only way to save face.
Ross doesn’t have control over player personnel like other cancerous owners have and have had — Jerry Jones, Al Davis and Daniel Snyder to name few. Still, he’s managed to mar perception of the franchise as if he does.
Having too much pride to admit that would be a greater mistake than the damage he’s done.
Selling to a more adept owner might not only save the team, but Ross’ legacy.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.