SBD/January 24, 2014/Franchises

Issues With Power Structure Cited For Farmer Withdrawing From Dolphins' GM Hunt

Concerns over the Dolphins’ "front office power structure are very real, and apparently cost the team one of its leading candidates -- if not the front-runner altogether" -- for its GM vacancy, according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. Browns CEO Joe Banner on Thursday said that team Assistant GM Ray Farmer "will remain in Cleveland." Farmer's withdrawal represents "a remarkable turnaround in the course of 24 hours, when many believed he would end up" with the Dolphins. Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation Chair John Wooten, whose firm promotes the hiring of minority coaches and GMs, said Farmer "has reservations about the structure of the Dolphins. He’s not certain who would be running things, whether it would be him or someone else." A source said that Farmer's main issue is "with the amount of power" team Owner Stephen Ross has granted team Exec VP/Football Administration Dawn Aponte. Multiple candidates for the GM job have "complained privately that they can’t get a straight answer that they wouldn’t have to report to Aponte." In addition, Aponte's "control over the budget could affect who the next general manager would be able to re-sign or target in free agency" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson reports the remaining candidates for the job include Dolphins Assistant GM Brian Gaine, who is "respected around the league but also might have a stigma" because he was former GM Jeff Ireland’s right-hand man. Titans VP/Player Personnel Lake Dawson, who Wednesday was "reported to be out of the search," is now "expected to be a finalist." Buccaneers Dir of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey, who was "a surprise candidate," reportedly "impressed Dolphins officials in interviews." It is "unclear whether he will be granted another interview." A Dolphins spokesperson said that the team will "not release a list of finalists, but will announce when a candidate has completed his interview" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/24).

WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG? ESPN's Adam Schefter said it is "hard to imagine that there could be a search that's gone on longer than the Browns' head coaching search, but we have that in Miami with the general manager search." It is "hard to imagine that a search for one general manager can take this long, but this seems to be something that sometimes happens" with the Dolphins ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/24). In Miami, Armando Salguero asked, "Is the Dolphins' reputation around the NFL so soiled that even people working for the Browns -- the Browns! -- don't want more money, more power, and a chance to run the Dolphins front office? Somebody wake me, because this is a nightmare" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/23).

XX's & O's
: In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly reports at this week's Senior Bowl, the question surrounding the Dolphins "wasn't who will get the vacant general manager job," but rather it "centered" on Aponte. One exec asked Wednesday, "Is a woman really running the show down there?" That question has "been echoed by men employed by four NFL teams this week." Kelly asks, "But should we need that question answered?" If Aponte "were a man ... would her status in the power structure be an issue? Would her role in the interview process be anyone's business?" Ross has "already gone on record saying the new GM will report to him, and only him to end speculation that any candidate would directly report to Aponte," but that "hasn't [stopped] some people from thinking Aponte's role, status and influence are issues" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/24).
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