SBD/November 11, 2013/Franchises

Reports: Jobs In Jeopardy For Dolphins' Ireland, Philbin In Wake Of NFL Investigation

Ireland has expressed confidence that the Dolphins had created a healthy workplace
There is a "growing belief" among NFL circles that both Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin "will lose their jobs" after special investigator Ted Wells completes his report on the alleged bullying scandal involving Dolphins G Richie Incognito and OT Jonathan Martin, according to Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. Wells' report "could have a major impact on the decisions" made by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross. Despite the "current anger Ross is experiencing, he wisely has resisted doing anything rash." For Ireland and Philbin, "staying employed could hinge on winning enough games that it becomes impossible for Ross to fire them" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/10). ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen cited sources as saying that the investigation "could impact jobs and create a dramatic restructuring" of the Dolphins organization. Sources added that one of those execs whose "future is cloudy" is Ireland. Sources said that Ireland "spoke at an organizational meeting" last week and "expressed confidence that the Dolphins had established a healthy workplace." But sources added that changes within the organization are "inevitable when the season ends" (ESPN.com, 11/10). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Ross last week texted Martin "offering support." Ross has said that "he wants to create [a] professional environment" (TWITTER.com, 11/11). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes the "clock is ticking" on Ireland and Philbin, and it "just sped up." The Dolphins have "become a national joke/embarrassment, and Philbin looks like someone who has no control over a locker room." Ireland comes across "as a non-entity save for reportedly having told Martin to settle his differences with Incognito through physical confrontation." Stoda wonders how long Ross can "tolerate having the franchise be viewed with disdain or as a laughingstock." This "mess will define the Dolphins’ season unless they make the playoffs, and it will be a dominant story line even if they do" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/11).

LACKING LEADERSHIP: CBSSN’s Amy Trask asked, "Where are these senior, senior executives in the Miami Dolphins in this entire dialogue? Where’s Jeff Ireland in this dialogue? ... The Dolphins hired a new CEO only two months ago, a CEO and president. He’s been on the job only two months, but hey, let’s hear from him too. Why is he not saying anything?” Trask asked, “Where is the owner in all of this? ... What is going to be the role of this owner on a going-forward basis? Look he’s the owner, he owns it, it’s his team, he gets to live where he wants but then you need to have people in place to run the organization for you if you are not there on a day-to-day basis. I think everybody is interested to know where’s Jeff Ireland in all of this? What about the new CEO? Perhaps the organization has decided that Philbin should be the voice but I think that people are wanting to hear from others as well." CBSSN’s Adam Schein said Ireland “is the worst general manager in the NFL; the worst, the absolute worst.” Bart Scott added, “We’re talking about Jeff Ireland, the same guy that asked Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute. This is dysfunctional from the top” (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 11/10).

WHAT'S THE DAMAGE? ESPN.com's James Walker wrote, "Regardless of what side you're on, here is something everyone should be able to agree on: The Dolphins' culture is broken." The team's locker room has "no decorum or code of conduct." There are "no standards, and Dolphins players went overboard." Leadership "starts at the top" with Ireland and Philbin. They "failed to set a tone of what was not acceptable in Miami's locker room." The workplace environment "has become a huge issue with the Dolphins," as Incognito in his interview with Glazer claimed that "ugly racial slurs are the norm." This kind of environment "shouldn't be acceptable -- not in Miami or with any NFL team" (ESPN.com, 11/10). In N.Y., Ken Belson wrote the bullying scandal "has the potential to not only damage the team's credibility, but also unleash a legal storm that could swirl around the team for months." Incognito and Martin "have not sued the team, and it is unclear whether either one will take legal action." The NFL CBA "could cover some claims that would be heard by an arbitrator." The two sides may be waiting until Wells "publishes his report." The "cloud hanging over the team may not be good for business, either." The Dolphins have drawn just below 63,000 fans per game this season, 9.8% higher than in '12. But the team fills about 84% of Sun Life Stadium's capacity, the "second-lowest rate in the league" behind the Raiders. Sources said that sponsors "may rethink their affiliation with the team" if the controversy drags on. The incident also may "make it harder for the team to again seek public money to renovate the stadium" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/10). In L.A., Sam Farmer wrote the bullying situation is an "embarrassment" to the Dolphins and NFL, and someone within the team, either Ross or Philbin, "needs to acknowledge the complete lack of common decency." The silence so far is "deafening," with Philbin and Ireland "cast in a most unflattering light" (L.A. TIMES, 11/10).

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: In Miami, Armando Salguero wrote the Dolphins are a "big deal now for all the wrong reasons." Salguero: "The team’s name? Sullied. Reputation? In the dumpster and on fire." The problem for the Dolphins is "people are either disgusted or laughing now." Salguero: "Not with them. At them." The people within the Dolphins organization "claiming complete ignorance of the apparent tension in Martin’s mind over Incognito and others are either lying -- which makes them complicit -- or out of touch, which makes them incompetent." It is "grounds for dismissal" either way (MIAMI HERALD, 11/10). Also in Miami, Michelle Kaufman noted there was "bad news" for Ross and the Dolphins "even before the season began." NFL owners in May "passed over Miami" and awarded Super Bowls L and LI to S.F. and Houston, "sending a message that the stadium needs improvements before it will be awarded the game again." There also was the "widely-circulated photo" of Dolphins C Mike Pouncey in July wearing a "Free Hernandez" cap, in support of former NFLer Aaron Hernandez. Meanwhile, Dolphins WR Mike Wallace "has not made the impact everyone hoped for" since he signed with the team last spring, and he "complained early in the season that he wasn't getting the ball enough." Yet none of the Dolphins' troubles this year "compare to the inflammatory saga of Incognito and Martin" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/10).

MANIC MONDAY: The MIAMI HERALD's Salguero writes tonight's "MNF" game between the "embattled" Dolphins and winless Buccaneers "will serve as three hours of relief from the real and much bigger problems each face." Compared to the past two weeks "filled with suspensions and scandal and reports of racial epithets and sexual harassment, this stuff is cake." The game is "being so longingly embraced because it will temporarily change the subject" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/11). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes of tonight's game, "There will be three nationally televised hours during this game to navigate the acidic finger-pointing, explosive legal statements and various ugly sub-plots." Meanwhile, the winless Bucs are "covered in a layer of misery" of their own. Tonight's game features "two teams who can't really win for winning," and "everyone will be watching" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/11). In Miami, Matt Kelley reports the Dolphins began their game week "with instructions to not answer questions about allegations" that Martin was bullied by Incognito and others on the team. The players "remained tight-lipped" last Monday, but by Wednesday they were "weary of not being able to speak up amid speculation about locker room culture, attacks on their character and leadership, and assertions about their friends and teammates." By week's end, "distraction" had become "a dirty word in the locker room, inevitably eliciting an eye roll from every player asked about it." The team insists that it was able to prepare for tonight's game "much like any other week." Almost every player on Saturday "mentioned how excited he was to simply play a football game again" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/11).
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