SBD/January 13, 2014/Franchises

Dolphins Interview Young, Minority GM Candidates As Ross Seeks "Up-And-Comers"

Five of Ross' eight candidates for the Dolphins GM position are minorities
The five candidates who have interviewed to be Dolphins GM "are not the familiar, long-established names fans might expect," as most of them "are in their 30s and 40s and the majority are minorities," according to Andrew Abramson of the PALM BEACH POST. It appears that Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is "looking for up-and-comers." The team has "already interviewed" Brian Gaine from their own front office, as well as the Steelers' Omar Khan, Browns' Ray Farmer, Cardinals' Jason Licht and Titans' Lake Dawson. The team is still "expected to interview" the Giants' Marc Ross, Falcons' Lionel Vital and Eagles' Tom Gamble. It is "no surprise that the Dolphins want" a young GM. Stephen Ross last year while praising former GM Jeff Ireland, who was in his early 40s, said, "I like dealing with youth and enthusiasm." But Abramson writes the fact that five of the eight candidates are minorities "might speak to how the league's front offices have changed over the last decade." Many insiders view Farmer, who worked under former Chiefs President & GM Carl Peterson, as "the front runner for the job." Peterson is "assisting" Stephen Ross in the search. Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation Chair John Wooten said that regardless of whether Farmer gets the job, the number of minorities interviewing with the Dolphins "shows a major shift in front offices over the last decade" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/13). In Miami, Adam Beasley noted "some, if not all" of the candidates "were recommended by the NFL's advisory committee." This "shouldn't come as a surprise" with Peterson on the panel, and "leading the Dolphins' search." The team has "gone above and beyond the requirements of the Rooney Rule, which mandates teams interview at least one minority candidate for top openings" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/12).

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS?
CBSSPORTS.com's Jason La Canfora reported there has "been chatter among candidates from more established front offices about the exact nature" of the Dolphins GM position, the "nuances of the search itself, and whether or not this is a situation worth further exploring." Sources said that "questions remain" among candidates "about the direction of the franchise." Stephen Ross, Dolphins President & CEO Tom Garfinkel, Vice Chair Matt Higgins, Exec VP/Football Administration Dawn Aponte, and Peterson "are conducting the interviews with general manager candidates" and that Ross, Peterson and Aponte are "leading the questioning" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/12). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote, "While Ireland's record certainly wasn't anything to write home about, we can't help but think that Ross ... is once again making a big mistake when it comes to building his football organization." The strongest NFL teams "have a front office and coaching staff working in lockstep." But parting ways with Ireland "marks the second time in his brief ownership that Ross has separated the head coach from the GM." Volin: "The Dolphins are going to try to hit a home run with the hire. ... But will any promising young candidate with options want to choose Miami?" Ross has "set up an environment for the circus-like atmosphere to continue" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/12).
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