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 operate a season, conduct a proper coaching search and stay off the radar of NFL investigations like the one starting up now against the Dolphins.
Now we’re learning just how badly, perhaps illegally, the Dolphins tried to tank for the No. 1 pick in 2019. Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores made the television rounds Wednesday morning, setting the narrative about his lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in NFL hiring and discussing how Ross offered $100,000 for each loss.
Flores said on ESPN Ross suggested, ‘taking a vacation,’’ and offered the money as an incentive. Flores’ response?
“That’s never going to happen,’ he said. “I’m always going to try to win. That’s just who I am.”
Flores’ lawyer told CNN there is “corroborating evidence.” The NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe reported Wednesday speaking to a witness who confirmed Flores’ allegations and said there were other witnesses. The league said Wednesday night it was starting an investigation into the allegations.
Expect more investigations with more dire consequences depending on the outcome. And it’s one thing to hedge ideas to protect the team or the owner to a league investigator. You get a subpoena from the Justice Department for fixing games? That’s another matter.
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 how to do it.
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. That’s small stuff by comparison anyhow.
This is the latest sordid episode under Ross’s ownership, too. It started with the odd decision to secretly interviewing Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and expecting it to stay secret. Then came the national embarrassments of Bullygate and 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 doesn’t lose enough for the No. 1 pick. Until Ross came aboard, the big crisis was how coach Nick Saban left town in 2006 – an entirely different story. Before that, maybe receiver Mark Duper being arrested for drugs in 1988.
Ross’s reign has been one embarrassment after another with Flores’ firestorm being the biggest. If the Dolphins wanted to tank in 2019 – and the owner and front office did – they do it properly. Demand a youth movement starting with awful Josh Rosen playing quarterback rather than veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Don’t hire a coach who won’t tank and then offer him $100,000 to lose a game. If Ross stays, there will be something next crisis. There always is.
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 or Brady 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 under Beal. No one even needs to insult Ross by offering $100,000 to quit.