I hear day in and day out about the Buccaneers’ ownership group, the Glazers, and why Bucs fans don’t seem to like the men who steward the franchise. And that’s fine, albeit overplayed, but when Bucs fans say they have the worst owners in football I want you to take a second to look south and think about the NFL’s worst owner, Stephen Ross.
Stephen Ross took over the Dolphins in January of 2009 when Miami was 11-5 and the winners of the AFC East. Since coming to town the Dolphins have gone 14-23 including 0-5 this season. It’s hard to blame all of that on an owner but sit down for a second and listen before throwing the Glazers under the bus.
The first thing Ross did in Miami was redo Bill Parcells’ contract so he could leave the franchise at any time and still keep all his money from the four year contract. This was supposed to ensure loyalty and still Parcells left after two years (out of four) and is now receiving checks from the Dolphins and ESPN where he works today. That’s the tip of the iceberg…
They Play Football Here Too?
Ross’ next move was to diminish the football atmosphere at Dolphins stadium by bringing in a list of B-list celebrity owners and putting a club in the stadium. You can see why football fans weren’t crazy about the orange carpet and seeing Fergie and J-Lo arrive every Sunday, but that’s really not a huge deal compared with putting mall shops and a club in your stadium and trying to lure attendance from non-fans to turn Sun Life stadium into a universal attraction.
That makes sense if you want to be profitable (I guess, though winning helps too) but nothing diminishes your home-field advantage like having several thousand people never make it to their seats because ownership turned the stadium into more of a mall-attraction than a football venue.
When they opened Club Liv at the start of last year, Dolphins’ CEO Mike Dee said:
“This isn’t going to be for everybody. It’s for people who like to have a good time and like to be at a party where there happens to be a football game.”
Since opening the club, the Dolphins are 0-10 at home.
The (Failed) Replacements
Part of the reason for Miami’s lack of success this season also stems from Ross’ poor leadership this off-season. I’m sure you heard over the off-season Ross and his little finger puppet, GM Jeff Ireland (famous for asking Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute), took a clandestine trip to California to try and hire Jim Harbaugh. As you saw two weeks ago, Harbaugh said no and opted to coach the 49ers.
Ross then turned around and after the meeting became public offered his now-alienated HC an empty contract extension, thus setting the stage for an entire team to quit on a lame-duck coach. Anyone in Miami with a multi-year deal is going to outlast Tony Sparano. It also ended up wrecking the relationship between head coach and GM. As Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero reported a couple weeks ago, Ireland and Sparano are barely on speaking terms these days. Nothing breeds success like coaches and GM’s that don’t speak.
Never in my entire life have I seen an owner fail to replace a coach, and then keep that coach after publicly seeking his replacement. If you wondered how that plays out, look at this Dolphins season when its done.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’
But that’s not the kicker. Oh no. That all pales in comparison to what will happen in Miami this weekend when the Broncos come to town. This weekend will be Gators appreciation day, meaning the Dolphins will honor the Florida Gators’ national title teams at halftime, including the recently-made-starter Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow.
Think about that, you’re essentially turning this home game into an away game because you’ve invited swarms of Tebow-throaters (in orange and blue) to root for their favorite college player as he plays against the hometown Miami Dolphins. You think many of these Gators fans are going to show up to root for the Fins? You remember when Tebow had the most popular rookie jersey in football last year and you saw thousands of UF-alum suddenly sporting Broncos gear? I don’t think they’re coming Sunday hoping to see Miami get their first win.
Ownership willingly invited this issue. They made a conscious decision to put their team at a literal disadvantage (for a little bit of money and cheap publicity).
That’s all I’m saying, the Glazers don’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as a visionless twit like Stephen Ross. It’s one thing not to spend a ton, it’s another to try to make money at the expense of your team. So next time you want to lament this team’s ownership, look south to our friends in Miami and thank your stars it’s not Stephen Ross behind the wheel of this franchise.