SBD/January 27, 2014/Franchises

Dolphins Name Bucs' Hickey GM After Being Spurned By At Least Three Candidates

Hickey will oversee all aspects of the Dolphins' football administration
The Dolphins yesterday announced that Buccaneers Dir of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey agreed to become the team's GM, but only after the team "wooed two others" -- Patriots Dir of Player Personnel Nick Caserio and Titans VP/Player Personnel Lake Dawson -- who "had issues with the team’s power structure," according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. A third finalist, Browns Assistant GM Ray Farmer, "wouldn't even agree for a final interview." Dolphins Assistant GM Brian Gaine, the team's "in-house candidate, was never offered the job" and was "taken aback by the snub." He is "not expected to remain with the franchise long-term." The team said that Hickey will "oversee all aspects of football administration and report directly" to Owner Stephen Ross. Exec VP/Football Administration Dawn Aponte will "report to Hickey on 'all matters,' not just the salary cap." Despite the Dolphins' "strong delineation of powers, details of the arrangement were unpalatable enough to scare off some of the best candidates -- in very public fashion." The "at-times embarrassing search has already taken a real toll," as several Dolphins players have "privately expressed that they want out of this situation, seen by many as dysfunctional." Hickey with the Buccaneers previously served as Dir of College Scouting. When the Buccaneers' GM position opened up this past offseason, Hickey "wasn't even considered for the job." Reaction to the hire around the league is "mixed" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/27).

FALSE START: In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson writes because of the "circumstances of his hiring, it could be hard for Hickey to build credibility." Meanwhile, Aponte's role was "a source of concern among some candidates." A source said that some candidates "believed they would either be on par with Aponte in the organizational chart or would work under her direction." But the team in a statement yesterday said that it has "given Hickey full personnel control." A source said that means that Aponte "will answer to Hickey" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/27). In Miami, Armando Salguero writes Hickey "came with no preconceived demands for his employment." He was "willing to accept and collaborate" with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin going forward and "willing to stay in his lane and help the Dolphins win as much as he could." Salguero: "That’s one reason he’s the new GM now" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/27).

FAULTY PLAN? One person who interviewed for the GM position said that Ross "never clarified" whether Aponte would "report to him or the owner, which has caused confusion." A former NFL GM said that having Aponte report to Ross, instead of the GM, "potentially would cause problems." In Miami, Barry Jackson wrote, "What a humbling, disappointing search ... Doesn't Ross need to ask a bunch of smart NFL people why this job is so unappealing and attempt to fix it?" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/26). In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes the Dolphins took "a ridiculous amount of time" to replace former GM Jeff Ireland, who was fired Jan. 7, and they "looked more and more dysfunctional as every day passed without a hire." The hiring of Hickey does not "change how inept the Dolphins must appear to be to other NFL franchises" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/27). ESPN.com's James Walker wrote the Dolphins' GM search "should open some eyes within the organization that something internally must change." The position on paper "should have been a quality opening," but the "internal workings and behind-the-scenes drama in Miami made its GM position significantly less attractive." The Dolphins "must look in the mirror, re-examine themselves and figure out if this is the smartest way to do business moving forward" (ESPN.com, 1/26).

DAWN OF THE DOLPHINS: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman asked of Aponte, "Who is this woman, who until recently had flown under the radar as she quietly but firmly knocked down gender barriers in NFL front offices from New York to Cleveland to Miami? And why has her role in the Dolphins’ power structure become such a hot-button issue that some say it is scaring away job candidates?" Aponte is "a 23-year veteran of the NFL, a Bill Parcells disciple, an accountant, an attorney and a lifelong sports nut who has been making tough decisions since playing second base for the softball team at Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls high school in Staten Island." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "Dawn is a very well-respected executive in the league." Aponte "confided recently to people close to the Dolphins that any characterizations of her as a calculating power-hungry corporate climber are unjustified." Goodell said of Aponte handling being a female exec in the NFL, "She’s not afraid of anybody. She doesn’t back down. She is well prepared, thoughtful, intelligent and tough. In any business, you have people say they don’t want to report to someone else because of ego" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/26).
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