SBD/November 13, 2013/Franchises

Sources: Ireland's Future May Be Sealed After Ross' Comments, Loss To Bucs

Ireland's fate will likely be decided after the NFL's investigation into the scandal
Two events Monday night -- Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross' "lack of public support" and the team's 22-19 loss to the previously winless Buccaneers -- "perhaps foreshadow" team GM Jeff Ireland's eventual exit from the organization, according to sources cited by Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. It is "unlikely that any major move will be made" before NFL special investigator Ted Wells "finishes his review of the organization" that was sparked by the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation. Dolphins President & CEO Tom Garfinkel has suddenly "been thrust into a near-untenable situation," and one of his top priorities is "finding a way out of the current morass." He said, "Our fans should know we’re working to get better." Beasley reports many fans "have already spoken with their wallets," as each of the past three games at Sun Life Stadium "had a smaller crowd than the one that preceded it." The Dolphins are "so worried about the attendance for Sunday’s game against the Chargers, they’ve reached out to season-ticket holders who skipped the previous game to encourage them to attend." Meanwhile, there will be a plane flying over the stadium this Sunday with a "banner demanding Ireland's job" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/13). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch writes Ireland "already looks as if he will suffer from the fallout judging by the behavior and comments" from Ross on Monday. Ireland was in attendance at the game, but he was the "only prominent member of the Dolphins’ front office absent from Ross’ press conference" (N.Y. POST, 11/13). ESPN's Ed Werder noted Ross did not hire Ireland, so if Ross "decides that he wants to deflect blame and wants to insulate himself from being responsible" for the bullying scandal, he can "certainly blame Jeff Ireland" ("NFL Live," ESPN2, 11/12).

COOL WITH THE COMMITTEE? In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly reports Dolphins players had not "been informed about Ross' blue-ribbon committee that will develop a players' code of conduct for next season" prior to him announcing it Monday night. Meanwhile, Pro Football HOFer Dan Marino appeared on WAXY-AM's "The Eric Reed Show" yesterday and said that he "accepted a spot on the committee after fielding a call from Ross on Monday afternoon, and there was momentary confusion about a leadership council meeting that's now been re-scheduled." Marino called the committee a "work in progress" and added, "We haven't even discussed exactly what the parameters of it are." Marino said of Ross' offer, "I said listen, if I can help, because I love the Dolphins, and I love our community down here, if I could help him in any way I would. And that's really where it's at right now because I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody else that's even on the committee since (Monday)" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/13). Dolphins coach Joe Philbin regarding the committee said that he is "open to outside assistance." He said, "I’m for anything that can make our organization better. Steve and I talked about this, and I’m in total agreement and support" (ESPN.com, 11/12).

DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD? ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Ross has hurt the situation by "forming this blue-ribbon panel to further complicate this." Kornheiser: "Now you've got the NFL investigating, you've got the NFLPA investigating. Now you've got Dan Marino and Tony Dungy and everybody else who's on a Sunday talk show trying to get involved in this and see how to change everything in football. I think this will really hurt the Dolphins." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the panel will "help the situation" and noted it is better to have "too many prying eyes … than no eyes" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/12). FoxSports.com’s Bill Reiter said, "The task force is an absolute farce. It has no power, it has no meaning -- kind of like its general manager and maybe its owner. It’s a joke." Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman added, "Why do you have a task force? You’re the owner. You do the investigating, you find out what happened and you make the decisions. This task force is a cover to me for what he wants to do later. He wants to definitely fire the GM to me and probably the head coach, so he’s doing this to give cover for that" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 11/12).

REMORSEFUL ROSS: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote Ross "seems to be genuinely sincere regarding his commitment to improving the team’s workplace." Regardless of the "specifics, Ross seems to realize based on the evidence already produced and Martin’s decision to leave the team that something happened that shouldn’t have happened" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/12). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes under the header, "Ross' Heart In Right Place When It Comes To His Miami Dolphins" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/13). Meanwhile, in Miami, Michael Putney writes of Wells' investigation, "I don’t expect his inquiry to drag on too long because this is one more black mark on a multibillion-dollar brand -- the NFL" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/13).
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