This Fish Stinks From The Head
As the war of leaks and counter leaks comes out between the camp of Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, and the Miami Dolphins management continues unabated, one thing is clear: The Dolphins organization is a complete and total dumpster fire. Lets review some basic facts, away from the present, captivating unpleasantness.
The Miami Dolphins are lead by two men: Owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland.
Ireland came aboard from the Dallas Cowboys with a solid reputation as a talent evaluator. During his time in Dallas, an organization that no one would accuse of being dysfunctional – *Cough* sarcasm *Cough* – with Ireland a vital part of the scout team a number of future Pro Bowl players were selected, most notably future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. He then joined Miami as part of the Bill Parcells regime that used the Wildcat to go from worst to first in the AFC East. Then, as Parcells stepped back, Ireland assumed full command. It was around this time that things started to go wrong both on and off the field. The NFL solved the Wildcat, and Ireland became infamous for asking Dez Bryant “Is your mother a prostitute?” It went downhill from there as quality free agent players and coaches declined Miami offers, even after public courtships had taken place.
Though in Ireland's defense, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross shares the blame in that regard, as well. In fact, Ross was heavily criticized for attempting to obtain public funding to help with part of a $350 million dollar improvement plan to the Dolphins's stadium, while at the same time giving $200 million to the University of Michigan. In asking for public funding for his private stadium, Ross – whose real estate accomplishments in New York are very impressive – was following the pattern of billionaire NFL owners since time immemorial. But that doesn't make it particularly savory, and while the contribution to Michigan is a stunning act of generosity that should be celebrated, it shouldn't be surprising that such a move would irritate Dolphins fans or neutral commentators.
But the root of much of the Dolphins fans' dismay is this: Not only haven't the Miami Dolphins been good in a while, they haven't been relevant since Dan Marino retired.
Ross is a relatively new owner, but he did make a very shrewd decision: he wisely asked the NFL to intervene in this current mess rather than deal with the agendas of those on his staff who'd prefer to keep their job and make this go away. Given that Ross spends much of his time in New York and has been, by necessity, closely following the NYC Mayoral race where he's spent some signifcant coin due to the development interests at stake, his flaw seems to have been hiring the current regime.
This NFL investigation will likely give him the option to change that mistake.
As pointed out on the recent football.com End Around Show as well as by a variety of national commentators, most notably Tony Kornheiser, this situation is literally the plot of the Aaron Sorkin classic, “A Few Good Men.” Someone doesn't fit in with the culture of a unit, as constructed by the senior brass, an order is given to discipline the misfit to bring him in line, things go too far, chaos ensues.
A team constructed by Jeff Ireland hired a coaching staff that reinforced his idea of a successful football culture. Part of that culture was empowering a player who several teams refused to draft because of a knuckleheaded past. Said knucklehead, Richie Incognito – who will be incorporated in approximately 99.9% of fantasy football team names next year – is given an order.
The only difference here is that in “A Few Good Men” which was inspired by actual events, the Marines on trial had a fundamental good nature to them. That is seemingly lacking in this case. Incognito has a history of bad behavior both on the field and off including very recently. The fact is, things like this do not happen in properly functioning organizations. Yes, people occasionally have to pay for dinner, and rookies have to carry pads. But they don't have to endure threats to their sister or the assorted other ridiculousness including a Coach of the team ordering a 'Code Red' and the GM asking why the victim didn't assault and batter his tormentors. Simply put, when your organization makes the Greg Schiano Tampa Bay Bucs look functional while they deal with MRSA then you know it's time for change.
So luddites can recite the famous Jack Nicholson speech from "A Few Good Men" all they want.
What they should remember is the end of the movie, when Nicholson and his underlings get hauled away. Which is precisely what should, and will, happen here.