Let’s hope Steve Ross throws in the towel as easily as he allegedly asked his coach to do. That’s the best way out of the latest and messiest fiasco of his Miami Dolphins ownership.
Ross can still run Hard Rock Stadium, where he’s made buckets of money on tennis, a grass company and soon a Formula One race. He should just sell the community jewel of the Dolphins to his already-hand-picked and NFL-approved successor, Bruce Beal.
Beal should then offer a slice of the team to some respected football name — Peyton Manning? Tom Brady? — to run the team.
Manning, Brady or whomever, would bring a new face to assemble a professional organization that knows how to do fundamental things like conduct a coaching search.
That search was the centerpiece topic a minute ago with the Dolphins. The franchise that didn’t know how to tank now couldn’t run a coaching search. Now we’re learning just how badly, perhaps illegally, they tried to tank.
Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores made the television rounds Wednesday morning, setting the narrative about his lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in NFL hiring and telling just how badly the Dolphins tried to lose in 2019. He talked in surface terms about Ross offering $100,000 for each game thrown.
It came in a conversation where Ross suggested, “taking a vacation,” Flores said, and offered the money as an incentive. Flores’ response?
“That’s never going to happen,’ he said on ESPN. “I’m always going to try to win. That’s just who I am.”
Flores’ lawyer told CNN there is “corroborating evidence.” Did Ross say this in front of several people? Did he repeat it to others? Are Flores and his lawyers exaggerating? These are the football questions smothering the Dolphins now.
Ross isn’t a bad billionaire. He’s really not. The Dolphins have done more in the community than any other franchise. But he doesn’t know how to run a sports team. Worse, he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.
No coach worth his playbook will agree to throw games. That’s not how they’re wired. And bribing them to do so? It’s posted in every NFL locker room that it’s not just against league rules to do that. Anyone asked to fix games has to report that to the league.
Flores, to be sure, will have to answer to the NFL about this. Not that they’re on speaking terms, except through lawyers at this point.
Still, it’s one thing for an NFL investigator to take a statement and people hedge the truth to protect the team or owner. You get a subpoena from the FBI or U.S. Attorney over fixing games? That’s another matter.
That could be coming, too. It would be latest sordid episode under Ross’s ownership. Some are just odd decisions, like secretly interviewing Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and expecting it to stay secret. Some were national embarrassments, like Bullygate, when Ross ceded control of the investigation into teammates’ bullying tactics to league-hired lawyers rather than handing it himself.
Next up was an assistant coach snorting cocaine in Dolphins offices in a video released by a Vegas, uh, “model.” Now there’s this case where a team that’s lost plenty under Ross’ tenure doesn’t lose enough for the No. 1 pick.
Until Ross came aboard, the big crisis was how Nick Saban left town or, if you want to go way back, to receiver Mark Duper being suspended for drugs in 1988. That’s when such issues were big news.
Ross’s reign has been one embarrassment after another with Flores’ firestorm being the biggest. If Ross wanted to tank the season – as everyone knew he did – don’t offer a $100,000 incentive to your coach. Tell him to play awful quarterback Josh Rosen instead of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and call it a youth movement. That’s easy.
If Ross stays, there will be something next crisis. There always it. It’s time to sell. Bring in Beal, who has traveled in Ross’s inner circle for a few years. Have Beal go out and get real a football person with a respected reputation to run the team.
No, it’s not Dan Marino. He doesn’t want the job.
Manning might. Brady might. Either might want the challenge of running a team after their careers and, let’s face it, this is a team that could use a fresh-faced re-start. Just like the Heat did when they hired Pat Riley and the Marlins did with Derek Jeter. It doesn’t mean it will work. It gives a chance, though.
What’s the marketing pitch next season if Ross stays? He’ll be in a firestorm involving the lawsuit. No one will know what to think about the rookie coach (assuming Jim Harbaugh isn’t thrown a lifeline). No one will know about the quarterback, either. Are you ready for some football?
There’s one way out: Ross agrees to lay down like he asked Flores to do. Give up the franchise. Throw in the towel. Re-start this organization. No one even needs to insult Ross by offering $100,000 to quit.