NFL column: Owner Ross has wrecked Dolphins
TAMPA - You can make a strong argument for Daniel Snyder, or you can talk up Bill Bidwill. Mike Brown is usually in the conversation and William Clay Ford is always around if you want to kick a few tires. But when it comes to naming the worst owner in the NFL, there's one clueless contender who deserves his own luxury suite in infamy. Stephen Ross, come on down.As owner of the Miami Dolphins, Ross has stripped one of the league's most historic franchises of its last shred of dignity. Blinded by celebrity and void of common sense, this real estate magnate has achieved the impossible – he has made Bill Parcells a sympathetic figure. Not too much sympathy, because Parcells walked away with millions when he relinquished control over football operations in Miami before the start of the 2010 season. Parcells inherited a 1-15 team in 2008 and presided over the greatest turnaround in NFL history as the Dolphins went 11-5 and won the AFC East, with Ross owning 50 percent of the franchise. A year later, when Ross had assumed complete control of the team and Sun Life Stadium, Parcells had one cleat out the door. Parcells will never be saluted for his loyalty and he is self-serving to the end, but make no mistake … it was Ross who drove him out of South Florida. It was Ross who couldn't cram enough A-list celebs into the owner's box for home games, even while the clamor for tickets began to wane. It was Ross who approved the sale of New York Jets T-shirts in Miami's official team store at Sun Life Stadium. Two Sundays ago, the Dolphins decided to honor members of the 2008 Florida Gators football championship team. That club happened to be led by quarterback Tim Tebow, who was under center for Denver on Sunday, rallying the Broncos past Miami as many in the crowd sitting above Dan Marino Boulevard cheered the visitors. You can't make this stuff up. Ross has wrecked quite a legacy. Since the 1970 merger, only the Steelers boast a better winning percentage than the Dolphins, who have captured 13 division titles and made 22 playoff appearances. Original owner Joe Robbie was no prize, but he hired smart people like Coach Don Shula and tried to stay out of the way. Ross showed his lack of class in January with a failed courtship of Jim Harbaugh, the former Stanford coach who ultimately decided the 49ers job was a better gig. When reports of his meeting with Harbaugh in California began to leak out, Ross denied he ever offered Harbaugh the Dolphins job. Meanwhile, Tony Sparano hadn't been fired as Miami's head coach before Ross met with Harbaugh. Sparano still hasn't been dismissed, despite an 0-7 start that has the Dolphins positioned to contend for the No. 1 overall draft pick in a year that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be available. Have you ever seen Ross try to get his points across at a news conference? He makes the Glazer boys sound like Walter Cronkite. He's unsure of himself, ill at ease. The only thing Ross knows for certain is he craves a franchise quarterback. He wants another Marino. When the Dolphins reel one in, you can be sure Sparano won't be around to reap the benefits. Ross also wants a high-profile coach to kick up a little sand along South Beach. The Dolphins already tried Jimmy Johnson, with moderate success. Parcells has seen enough of Ross and Jeff Fisher may not be trendy enough to sip mojitos with Venus and Serena. Maybe Ross can coax Rex Ryan out of New York. How about it, Stephen? I hear you're already working on a reunion of the 1968 Jets for next season.
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