Dolphins Owner Ross Calls Protester To Discuss Team's Offseason Moves
A fan protest at Dolphins HQs last Tuesday “created a ground swell powerful enough to reach the top of the embattled franchise,” and team Owner Stephen Ross “reached out to at least one of those upset fans Thursday night,” according to Izzy Gould of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee “arranged the call” to 20-year season-ticket holder Jason Lawrence, who said, "I was nervous as hell. I was shaking, and everything. I thought they were going to be upset. ... It was the coolest thing I ever did in my whole life." Lawrence said that he “asked about the decision to trade leading wide receiver Marshall to Chicago for two third-round draft picks.” Lawrence: "(Ross) said they had been shopping (Marshall) for a couple weeks. Nobody would return their phone calls about getting him. If Chicago didn't take (Marshall) … they would have ended up cutting him very shortly after that, and got nothing" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/24). In Miami, David Neal wrote the Dolphins have rarely “left their fans feeling as empty during the offseason as this year.” The Dolphins reaching out to Lawrence is “perhaps realizing fans and media thought they were scurrying about sans direction.” Lawrence: “It was a really nice 27-minute conversation. Very candid. I’m so impressed they would do this. I feel so much more positive and everyone I talked to about it is more positive.” He added, “Ross promised me they would be more transparent and try to talk to fans. I told him, ‘I don’t want to know your secrets. But if you make a move or don’t make a move, tell us why. Other teams do it.’” Neal noted despite ticket prices “remaining the same, the final season-ticket count could be under 40,000 for the first time since the strike-shortened 1982 NFL season” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/25).
SHREWD MOVE? In Miami, Armando Salguero wrote, “Ross lacks nuance. He lacks tact. He is a blunt instrument.” Ross was “advised by the Dolphins and agreed that the best way to address the protestations of fans … was to rush headlong into a one-on-one phone call to a fan to explain his team's rationale for this offseason.” It is an “interesting public relations move but there are myriad reasons other embattled owners don't do it -- for one it has the potential to make as many problems as it solves.” Salguero: “Ross opens himself up for questions that I've already read via email from other disgruntled fans: When is Ross going to call me? I'm upset, too, I want a phone call! Is Ross going to call every fan or just the ones so upset that they protest? Isn't that rewarding the protest and penalizing patience?” By calling this one fan, Ross has “made his season ticket more valuable than others.” Salguero: “I like Steve Ross. I love his passion and I believe he has the Dolphins' best interest at heart. But he needs refining. He also could stand to listen to the right people more” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/25). YAHOO SPORTS’ Doug Farrar wrote the phone call was “an interesting gambit, but there's still something rotten going on in that organization ... and all the PR spackle in the world won't make it go away” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/24). The MIAMI HERALD’s Salguero in an open letter to the team wrote under the header, “Dear Miami Dolphins, We Can’t Stand It Anymore!” Salguero: “If things don’t get better for us, things are going to get worse for you.” He continued: “In past years, you could explain the reasons for such struggles and get sympathy or understanding. But we’re not hearing it anymore. That’s what happens when people get fed up” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/25).