SBD/January 29, 2014/Franchises

Dolphins GM Hickey Unfazed By Being Third Choice; Ross Reiterates Power Structure

Hickey will have final say on the Dolphins' roster but will consult with coach Joe Philbin
The Dolphins yesterday formally introduced new GM Dennis Hickey, who "didn’t seem bothered that two others rejected the job before him, and that at least four others declined interviews," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. Hickey will have "final say on the 53-man roster." But he but said that he "will consult" with coach Joe Philbin on personnel decisions. Owner Stephen Ross "believed the disagreements" between Philbin and former GM Jeff Ireland regarding playing time, personnel decisions and other issues "were destructive." Ross said, "I have a lot of confidence in Jeff. He’s a good friend. We needed to have harmony in the organization and think as one organization where everyone has respect for each other and operate with the same mind-set in all situations." Sources said that Patriots Dir of Player Personnel Nick Caserio and Titans VP/Player Personnel Lake Dawson "turned down the job because they wanted the authority to fire the coach whenever they chose." Asked why he insisted on retaining that power, Ross said, “I own the team. Let’s start there.” He added that he "doesn’t understand why some candidates were confused about the organizational structure." Ross: “I was pretty clear in the structure. Not an unusual structure. General manager reports to me. Coach reports to me" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/29). Ross said that he was "not concerned that Hickey isn’t familiar to Dolphins fans." Ross: “Just because you’re a big name doesn’t mean you’re going to win. It’s putting together the right kind of organization and growing together" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/29).

WAIT AND SEE APPROACH: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes Hickey "may become the greatest general manager this team ever had," but the "truth is he was the team's fourth GM choice, at best." Hyde: "And, besides, fans are numb from the parade of hopefuls over the last decade standing in the exact spot he did at his introductory news conference and say much of what he did. ... When's the last time the Dolphins made a decision at the top that made you cheer?" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/29). Also in Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly wrote what Ross "lacks is clout inside the football community, a track record of success, and good advisers who have football knowledge and connections." It is "impossible to not notice Ross can't land his big fish time after time." Kelly: "However, I respect Ross for the fact he's usually swinging for the fence. I'd rather an owner go that route than do what Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have done the past decade" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 1/28). In Miami, Greg Cote writes the hire "wasn’t just about how Hickey will shape the roster." It was about a "beleaguered NFL franchise trying to get on that proverbial 'same page'" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/29).

AS FOR THAT BULLYING THING: Ross said that special investigator Ted Wells' report on the Dolphins' bullying scandal "will be released after the Super Bowl." But the SUN-SENTINEL's Kelly writes Ross "doesn't seem too concerned about the details of the drama" that led to OT Jonathan Martin's departure from the team, and G Richie Incognito's eight-game suspension. Ross said, "I've been [in] communication with the NFL and I've spoken with Ted Wells, who is handling the investigation. I don't know exactly what his conclusions (are), but based on my conversations ... when it comes out we'll do what has to be done. In my mind I know what direction we're going. Stay tuned." He added, "The respect we gained by how we handled the situation that took place here says an awful lot about this organization, and about the people who are running it" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/29).
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